#REVIEW: “TO THE WONDER”
There is no Director more divisive than Terrence Malick. In fact, his 2011 Best Picture Contender Tree of Life is one of the rare instances where I’ve seen an actual notice posted at the Theatre explaining a “No Refunds” policy to Patrons, his unconventional Filmmaking PRed in unapologetic manner. Clearly, Critics loved it – especially locally with the Toronto Film Critics Association naming it their Best Film. Malick‘s latest, a Romantic-Drama titled To the Wonder premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last September, now ready for a theatrical release. One cannot help but be filled with wonder how the Public will respond this time.
The Film centers on on-again/off-again Couple Neil (Ben Affleck) and Marina (Olga Kurylenko), who decide to relocate from France to Oklahoma. With their passions beginning to subside, Neil reunites with Jane (Rachel McAdams) from his past. After spending a bit of time back in Paris following their separation, a saddened Marina decides to return to Oklahoma to be with Neil. With a host of unresolved issues of their own, seeking help in Faith with the guidance of Father Quintana (Javier Bardem), they question whether or not their love truly was meant to be.
Stepping-up to the challenge best here is Kurylenko as Marina, who alternates between French and English in girlish effervescence whether she be looking over her shoulder playfully or prancing about teasing Neil with a Rooster. Affleck, despite being the phenomenal Actor he is, wilts under the constraints of Malick‘s experimental direction. He alternates between irritation and worry much of the Film and overall appears an odd fit. And though stunningly delicate in her heartbreak, McAdams is seen far too little, flowing by us like a current in the motif of streaming water recurring in the Film.
What makes To The Wonder forgivable despite its lack of a Working Script or a conventional flow, is that Malick manages to tell a complicated story about love so engagingly with minimal dialogue, supplemented by the power of Action and Imagery. It is undeniable that the Film carries an exquisite presence, naturally lit with meditative nuances, purely poetic as a cinematic experience. Ultimately though, as an exploration about Love’s fragility, it falls short as a Statement on the matter, veering more perhaps as an ode to Self-Discovery.
To the Wonder opens on Friday, April 19, 2013 in Toronto and on Friday, April 26, 2013 in Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa.