As is often the in Terrence Malick, the first images are accompanied by a voice-over. This time, it is that of the actress, Ukrainian Olga Kurylenko, and French. Surprising ! This process is recurrent in the american director is for a time less well integrated into the narrative than in his previous works, and takes such an importance that it obscures completely the dialogues. A gamble for a result in half-tint. The dynamism of the film can be found impact in the long run.
Like The Tree of Life and more particularly The New World, the entire film is a succession of scenes contemplative, connected by a thin thread that was soon to lead us astray. The plot remains secondary, it is the wandering love of the actors that give rhythm to the story. There is a beautiful love story even if it must absolutely not try to rationalize the events of the couple under the penalty of being bored.
We do not understand very well where Malick is coming from. The characters are difficult to understand because, except in voice-over, they do not speak or almost not, to the point that they do not know their first name. It is the kind of taiseux, she is radiant or, conversely neurotic. Olga Kurylenko is fantastic, it embodies the love with a lot of restraint and proves that she can interpret a much more complex role than a simple James Bond girl (the beautiful but uniform Camille in Quantum of Solace). Ben Affleck on-to-him has moved me in its role as a good man plagued by indecision, the opposite of his usual productions of more classic (Pearl Harbor, Paycheck, Argo , among others).
The mixture of languages (French, English, Spanish, and even Italian) goes badly enough, we find ourselves confused by this melting-pot language not ultimately essential, and that moves us away from the very heart of the narrative, in its essence, which is intended to be primarily sensory and intuitive, and that the slightest word seemed to desecrate.
The cinema of Malick is made of small things : a dress worn by the tall grass, a graceful motion of the head, the drops of water that roll off gently from a dead branch. He manages to bring out a lyricism that is always mesmerizing, and despite the absence of sex scenes or kisses, one is not blinded by this love that’s in perpetual evolution between the two lovers. In turn stable, fragile, wavering, american director probe its various facets without ever getting caught up. Each gesture is touch, a caress, making their love a relationship beautiful but we guess incredibly fragile.
The photography is impeccable, which is not a surprise with Malick. It carries light like no other filmmaker. In turn of a dazzling whiteness, a comforting warmth, or simply absent, it helps to create a conducive atmosphere and is directly related with the situations. For example, it has a tendency to become more raw at the scenes of disputes before resuming a shade more soft, almost comforting.
“To THE WONDER is a beautiful love story, beautiful and hard, nevertheless served by secondary characters too little present and a scenario that confused.”
As in The New World and to a lesser extent, The badlands, the man is paraded as a figure to idolize, here more for his gentleness and sensitivity to his manhood, while the woman is celebrated for her loving nature. In a second step, the images adapt to the evolution of a couple. Close to the break-up, the man becomes violent, unable to react otherwise than by this act of frustration, behaviour neurotic of his half that he loses without understanding the why. This dive in the intimacy of a couple in the midst of a crisis reminiscent of the two major works of Sam Mendes, American Beauty and especially The Wedding Rebels. On a more subtle note, the duo of Olga Kurylenko/Ben Affleck compares well with Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, which was not won in advance.
Behind, the secondary characters provide their rank, but have too little time to have a real impact in the story. You can see Rachel McAdams and Javier Bardem a small ten minutes each, is clearly insufficient to assess their performance, exactly like that of Sean Penn in The Tree of Life.
The descent into hell is slow but inevitable. Embodied by the voice-off of Olga Kurylenko “weak people never set things to a conclusion, and they expect others to do”. And it is exactly that, confused, disillusioned, the young woman is at the edge of the rupture, but fails to be strong enough to do the necessary. Other elements are subtly slipped in the photograph and make us understand the failure of this love. The house is half-empty, the facade is not painted, the garden is not laid out, everything suggests that they are passing because their love is not meant to last despite their intense passion.
To THE WONDER is a beautiful love story, beautiful and hard, nevertheless served by secondary characters too little present and a scenario that confused. A new performance was a little below expectations but very far from being the failure which was expected.
To THE WONDER has been reviewed as part of our retrospective of Terrence Malick on the occasion of the release of his new film Knight of Cups.
– The badlands (1973) – by Paul
– The Harvest of heaven (1978) – by Paul
– The red Line (1998) – by Paul
– The New world (2005) – by Paul
– The Tree of Life (2011) – by Paul
– Has the wonder (2012) – by Paul
– The cinema of Terrence Malick – by Loris
– What happened to Terrence Malick ? – by Pierre
– Review of Knight of Cups – by Peter,
• Original title : To The Wonder
• Director : Terrence Malick
• Screenplay : Terrence Malick
• Main actors : Olga Kurylenko, Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem, Rachel McAdams
• Country of origin : United States
• Released : April 12, 2013
• Duration : 1h53 min
• Distributor : Magnolia Pictures
• Synopsis : Even though they are known later on, passion experience of Neil and Marina in the Wonder – Le Mont-Saint-Michel – clears the lost years. Neil is certain to have found the woman of his life. Beautiful, full of humor, a native of Ukraine, Marina is a divorced mother of a 10 year old girl, Tatiana. Now, the couple is installed in Oklahoma. Their relationship is weakened Marina feels trapped. In this small american community, she seeks advice from another expatriate, a catholic priest named Quintana. The man has his own problems : he doubts his vocation… Marina decides to return to France with her daughter. Neil console with Jane, an old friend to which it is attached more and more. When he learns that nothing goes to Marina, he finds himself torn between the two women in his life. Father Quintana continues to struggle to regain the faith. In the Face of two forms of love are different, both men are confronted with the same questions.