Attending the official screening at the 'Sala Grande' at the Venice film festival. The applause for the attending actors finally stops and I find myself waiting with some excitement for a film created by one of the most praised directors of the moment, lining up some great names like Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem and Olga Kurylenko. I was also expecting another great actress to appear on the screen, Rachel Weisz. I would soon find out that she was being cut out, and some more were. It is not the first time this happens. Malick has a notable history of cutting actors out of his films, which is of course his good right.
After a typical romantic scene in Paris, more resembling a travel advert then anything else, I start to get nervous. Why? Because the romantic blah-blah doesn't seem to stop. An overhead voice speaking french doesn't make a movie artistic. Loosely filmed scenes in corn fields are not per definition beautiful.
Kurylenko, in the role of Marina, comes to the hometown of Neil (Affleck), some nowhere ville in Oklahoma where they continue their fairytale romance. Kurylenko is constantly doing little dances and pirouettes on the street, or where-ever she is located. Giggling, singing, hopping on the bed, and looking over her shoulder while laughing towards the camera. That kind of sums it up, since Affleck hardly speaks a word. He is just the typical guy and she is just the typical so called-artistic-french-loving-and-beautiful girl. After she and her daughter return to Paris, he has a identical affair with his hometown sweetheart (McAdams), as if super attractive women are just available everywhere. Then Kurylenko returns, because she needs a Greencard. Explained in just one very meaningful phrase "Forgive me" they have a fight. Also very typical (but yes, finally some action!). Of course some kind of vase is shattered and its all tears and gestures.
Then suddenly Javier Bardem appears as a priest seeking spiritual fulfillment in a church. These scenes seem detached from the rest of the story, although the same church is visited by other characters. Some cleaning personnel and people who are 'worn down by life' are also given some screen time, placed randomly into the movie (in high contrast to the blazing beauty of the main characters).
The religious undertone becomes stronger and stronger towards the end of the movie, making it all too clear that love and religion are one and the same. And that all of the Hallmark-inspired beauty seen before must be powered by the divine.
Enforcing religion onto an audience reminds me of brainwashing, and it is something I cannot appreciate. Showing religion in a movie is no problem; since it is a part of most people's lives, but trying to emotionally convey someone to a certain religion, doesn't matter which one, should be a priest's job not a film director's.
I must say I admire the wish to look upon cinema in new ways, and I can see very clearly what the idea was for making this movie: Malick tries to tell a story by not showing the key moments, conversations or explanations: he shows the in-between. The silent moments, 'life'.
This is how the movie fails: there doesn't seem to anything in-between. The emotions seem empty, love seems superficial, religion is fake.
The thing is, I applaud to art cinema, I am very much fond of romantic stories, I love it when a filmmaker pays attention to cinematography. Maybe all of this made me more disappointed in "To The Wonder" then anyone else.
After it was finished some applause but also loud booing was heard from the audience. I sure wasn't the only one frustrated and appalled by this movie.
To the Wonder
Drama / Romance
To the Wonder
Drama / Romance
Neil (Ben Affleck) is an American traveling in Europe who meets and falls in love with Marina (Olga Kurylenko), a Ukrainian divorcée who is raising her 10-year-old daughter Tatiana in Paris. The lovers travel to Mont St. Michel, the island abbey off the coast of Normandy, basking in the wonder of their newfound romance. Neil makes a commitment to Marina, inviting her to relocate to his native Oklahoma with Tatiana. He takes a job as an environmental inspector and Marina settles into her new life in America with passion and vigor. After a holding pattern, their relationship cools. Marina finds solace in the company of another exile, the Catholic priest Father Quintana (Javier Bardem), who is undergoing a crisis of faith. Work pressures and increasing doubt pull Neil further apart from Marina, who returns to France with Tatiana when her visa expires. Neil reconnects with Jane (Rachel McAdams), an old flame. They fall in love until Neil learns that Marina has fallen on hard times. Gripped by a sense of responsibility - and his own crisis of faith - he rekindles with Marina after another trip to France. She returns with him to Oklahoma, resuming her American life. But the old sorrows eventually return.
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June 15, 2013 at 6:59 am