Friday, 8 March 2013
I Wonder. . . .
The only moment that I laughed during Terrence Malick's new movie To The Wonder, was when the credits were rolling, the lights had come on and an elderly woman with a loud voice and quite a distinctive Scouse accent bellowed out, "What the hell was that all about???"
Fair enough. It's not a comedy. And if you didn't like Malick's previous film Tree of Life (I was lukewarm) then this probably isn't your cup of tea either. Given a choice between the two, I prefer To The Wonder although parts of it left me yawning. I had high hopes with the beginning, suggestive of one of those French movies that loves to intellectualize relationships. We have a woman's voice-over in French, (Olga Kurylenko) talking about the deep connection she feels with her lover (a rather bland Ben Affleck - the guy really is no good at brooding) as the two cavort around Paris and take a trip to Mont St. Michel. The scenes at this medieval landmark are truly beautiful and haunting, especially those where the couple are wobbling precariously on the shifting sands as the tide comes in. We then shift to a sterile suburban neighbourhood in the U.S where the couple live in a large empty house with minimal furniture and absolutely nothing that denotes any personality whatsoever. Meanwhile Javier Bardam plays a priest who has lost his faith and is trying to find it amongst his most downtrodden parishioners. Affleck tries to find love amongst the buffaloes, with an old flame played by Rachel McAdams. All four characters mostly speak inaudibly but it might just be that the wind - which is constantly blowing - is taking any dialogue along with it. There are some lovely shots, but to be honest in the second half I found myself more interested in Kurylenko's knitwear (gorgeous sweaters and wraps), than any plot development, such as there was. I can appreciate the ambiguity and the questioning of faith and human connection, but surely love (or the search for it) is more wonderful than that.