Movie Review: To The Wonder
Eric Hook wrote this review 4 years ago
A scenery dreamscape where the human subjects simply blend into their surroundings. Highlighted by copious amounts of visually poetic movement, and a harmonic symphony of sound that ears are hardly qualified to comprehend. Terrence Malick like few other directors has crafted his own genre. To enjoy his films, you must make a conscious decision to say, “Fuck what I know”, and just take it all in, which I have yet to accomplish. If you didn’t enjoy Tree of Life, I suggest you pass on To The Wonder, it’s stylistically similar.
The storyline is told in a suggestive transitory manner. The acting is 75 percent improvisation. Malick tells the couple to act in love; brush each others hair, spin around, playfully run through public. Most of the film features variations of those examples. We never see them sit down and hash out their problems. Everything is more figurative or reminiscent. I find this method to be tedious. Not generally a fan of it in any kind of film, so in excess it really turns me off. Being kind of a story snob, Malick’s films don’t really resonate with me. While I found some personal meaning from To The Wonder, I’d like to be able to grasp a little bit more.
I found Javier Bardem’s internally driven side-plot to compliment Malick’s style. A priest who’s misplaced his spirituality, looking to the people of his parish for inspiration. Almost as if in an instant, something he used to be so sure of just dissipated. He stares blankly up at the sky, as a godlike voice-over representing his inner-monologue conveys Bardem’s turmoil to the audience. All this while a malnourished trailer-monger beats on his front door, symbolically representing the demons infiltrating his mind.
Malick is efficient in finding talented companion characters, the handy man in the church, or the prisoner explaining his thought process behind a life of crime. Brings to mind David Lynch, both directors find these hauntingly fascinating individuals that shine through the screen. People you’ve never seen in anything before, but would like to see in more.
I feel like one day Malick is going to release a film that knocks me on my ass. His style doesn’t match my tastes, yet I envy the people who can enjoy his films. His skill with the camera is awe inspiring & his location scouting is unparalleled (Especially the scene on the beach of La Seine). Most of all I bow down to the way he records & mixes sound. I’ve yet to see one of his films in theaters, perhaps that’s why I’m not a bigger fan.