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Tanya Khoury: Wonder of it all
April 19, 2013
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Terrence Malick is not for everybody, I can see that. I don’t understand it, but I can see it. Many people have their opinion about the writer/director and seem to express it pretty intensely. Especially after the release of The Tree of Life there was a lot of negative feedback with regards to lost direction and it being a huge waste of time. Perhaps I am being biased when I say that I tend to flush out everything and anything that people say about Malick because, in my eyes, he is a profound film maker. However, I do believe that there is a time and place for when you view a film like this. It took him six years to get back into releasing titles and after The Tree of Life came To the Wonder. If you go back to the 70s and see Badlands or Days of Heaven, I feel that you would really see how this film maker takes an idea and puts everything out there to visualise it.

To the Wonder is a story about love, life, tragedy, faith; it boils down to emotions. The plot takes us through the two lovers in Neil’s life (Ben Affleck’s role). Olga Kurylenko is Marina; she represents a free spirit with unfiltered emotions, a person who possesses qualities and characteristics that many of us control, or at least try to. Rachel McAdams (Jane) represents familiarity, someone that Neil related to during a period of time. Both characters represent different kinds of love in Neil’s life and both qualify deep and true emotions for the character. Javier Bardem takes on the role of Father Quintana, a gentle and forgiving soul on the outside, with a gaping sense of unanswered ambiguity on the inside, continuously struggling to find the answers that will serve as a comfort to his tormented soul.

As with most Malick films, this picture is presented as a painting, a moving painting that turns dark when your emotions hit bottom low, and sheds brightness when your senses are heightened, and the feeling of easiness and freedom overcome. The writing is poetic and there are many subliminal messages throughout, it is always left to the viewer to understand and translate. There are no fully fledged conversations throughout the film, there are only thoughts. This is what I love about Malick; he manages to bring out all those feelings out there in the open; as a viewer I feel so moved with his work that I find it very difficult to express what one film means to me as opposed to others. They are the kind of films that just linger, scenes are kept hidden in the back of your mind like a wonderful book you always like to refer to on your own.

Unlike most of his movies, this one is just under two hours and yet I didn’t feel the weight of time; the stillness in the imagery took over the pace and what I thought about the characters or what I think or don’t think fit. I was mesmerised by the beauty of the picture. The actors themselves were good for the part; each one of them possessed a quality that filled a void. For me, most of Bardem’s thoughts and words were the strongest; faith is a strange thing and the way he perceives it as a ‘man of the church’ is so vulnerable and yet strangely feels powerful. A beautifully sad and poetic piece of art that people need to at least give a chance, 8.9/10.

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