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Film Review: To The Wonder

To The WonderOne hundred and twelve minutes. That’s how long it takes for To The Wonder to pass before your eyes. That’s how long it takes to watch Olga Kurylenko prance around in a field like she’s not getting enough iron in her diet. One hundred and twelve minutes of listening to Javier Bardem’s monotonous voiceover. “Christ is above me… Christ is below me…” He keeps going and includes Christ to his left, right, and heart. He makes that last for around five minutes. It takes one hundred and twelve minutes to hear Ben Affleck say pretty much nothing while we try and tell how he feels from his facial expressions. It may be one hundred and twelve minutes, but it feels more like a four-day test match. Only there’s no cricket, just prancing.

In the interest of fairness, you have to give the director Terence Malick some credit for the beautiful images he can create. Combine that with a wonderful operatic soundtrack, and you’ve got a film that is rather hypnotic. At least it would be, if the script and indeed the story didn’t feel like a two-hour long version of a perfume advert with Brad Pitt. Replace Brad Pitt with Ben Affleck, and the similarities are disturbing. None of the all-star cast are really acting, but then again it’s not a requirement. All they have to do is stand around and look sad, happy, angry, or thoughtful. For the most part, everyone just looks vacant.

Here’s the plot of the film. Neil (Ben Affleck) is a wannabe writer who meets Marina (Olga Kurylenko) in Paris. They fall in love, and decide to move to America, along with Marina’s daughter. Five years later, the couple start having problems. Marina leaves, and while she is away, Neil meets Jane (Rachel McAdams) and they have a brief affair. But Marina returns, and the couple attempts to make their relationship work. The majority of this plot synopsis had to be printed in the press notes for the film. Without it, we wouldn’t just be missing most of the plot; we wouldn’t even know Ben Affleck’s character is called Nick.

When the film premièred at the Venice Film Festival, people in the audience actually laughed at scenes that were supposed to be serious. That’s how truly terrible To The Wonder is. It’s possible Terence Malick thinks the film all makes perfect sense, but he needs to get out of the habit of thinking that explaining the plot is for feeble minded people. Instead, all we get is a collection of meaningless shots strung together to make a feature film out of a plot that would be better suited to a short film. There probably is some sort of deep meaning that Malick is trying to get across. But whatever it is doesn’t make it. Not even over the course of one hundred and twelve minutes. But it will only take around five of those for you to realise that this is nearly two hours of your life you’ll never get back.

Image reproduced from cinemart-online.co.uk
Video reproduced from YouTube / OptimumReleasing

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About the Author: Eric Wood is 21 years old, from Bury in Greater Manchester, and a graduate of Salford University where he studied Journalism and English Literature. His first novel comes out later in the year, and he begins work directing his first feature length movie in the summer. Eric absolutely adores all forms of writing and loves movies so he’s the ideal film critic. His greatest inspiration for many years has been Michael Crichton, as Crichton has written novels, non-fiction, screenplays, and directed movies. Eric would love to be able to achieve all of those things in my lifetime.