Terrence Malick has a unique style of filmmaking which is immediately recognizable; gorgeous photography, often with fields and blowing summer dresses, combined with minimal dialogue and soft-spoken voiceover narration which is more poetry than plot. The familiarity of Malick’s style combined with the fact that he has drifted even further from the realms of mainstream storytelling makes To the Wonder simultaneously one of Malick’s most personal and most inaccessible films.
Though perhaps inaccessible is an unfair way of describing To the Wonder, which is ripe with emotions and ideas for those willing to participate. This is not a film for passive viewing. Audiences must be willing, and in some cases, brave enough to bring their own life experiences into the theater with them. This isn’t a film which demands intellectual probing, analyzing for significant ideas and concepts buried within the screenplay. I’m certain some scholars can and will do so, but this is a film which must be felt.
There isn’t much of a plot in To the Wonder, but rather a series of vignettes following the various emotions echoing throughout a relationship, even after it has ended. Ben Affleck is an American contractor named Neil, though we rarely hear his name or learn much about him. While on a business trip of some sort he meets and has a relationship with Marina (Olga Kurylenko), bringing her and her daughter back to his home in rural
. From here the film
drifts through a series of vignettes, showing the stages of a relationship and
the emotions along the way. United States
With a minimalist storyline involving a couple as they struggle through stages of a relationship, not much needs to be said for there to be moments which ring true. This is helped along by Emmanuel Lubezki’s photography and Hanan Townshend’s beautiful soundtrack, which is a bit like a sophisticated version of Thomas Newman’s Meet Joe Black score. Rachel McAdams has a brief supporting role as a former girlfriend that Neil reconnects with, and Javier Bardem plays one of the film’s most difficult roles as a bitter priest.
The DVD has a making-of featurette, as well as a couple additional extras. There is a featurette about the actors’ experience on set and one on the location choices that Malick makes. There is also a theatrical trailer.
Entertainment Value: 6/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10
Historical Significance: 7/10
Disc Features: 5/10