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. ... Written by
Terrence Malick is following his semi-autobiographical turn in The Tree of Life with another film based on his own life experiences. Malick, like Ben Affleck's character of "Neil", had a romance with a woman in France in the 80s named Michèle Morette (like Kurylenko's character of "Marina"), married her in 1985 and then moved back to Texas with her. They divorced in 1998, however, and Malick reconnected with Alexandra "Ecky" Wallace, a former high school sweetheart (like McAdams' "Jane") from his days at St. Stephen's school in Austin, Texas. See more »
When Jane and Neil get out of their car in the midst of the bison, cameras reflected in the car windows and doors in various shots. See more »
Newborn. I open my eyes. I melt. Into the eternal night. A spark. You got me out of the darkness. You gathered me up from earth. You've brought me back to life.
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...wrote french author Victor Hugo and Terrence Malick's "To the Wonder" seems at times to agree and at times wanting disprove that quote. As ancient as the mistake of falling in love appears to be, as unavoidable and necessary it is. In his impressionistic style which will enrapture some and drive most insane, this latest piece of work by one of America's most unusual filmmakers continues his exploration of emotional truths, identity, intimacy and individual freedom which leads us into ever changing emotional states.
Without a clear structure or narrative but accompanied by breathtaking images, a very expressive music and ambient soundtrack and extremely subtle performances, are we drawn into the lives of a business man (Ben Affleck), a Russian expatriate (Olga Kurylenko), the daughter of a farm owner (Rache McAdams) and the priest of a small town in Oklahoma (Javier Bardem). Their thoughts and struggles on love, commitment, God and marriage along with their the fights and atonement are presented in fractured moments that reveal the various elements of human contradiction which constantly tear us in two directions at the same time. We want freedom and comfort, love and domesticity, desire and stability. The compromise lies in accepting which side of us is the one that defines us the most and if we can live, at least partly, with the lack of the other, in order to achieve as Bardem's Father Quintana puts it:"The love that never changes."
Amidst this metaphysical and highly personal journey Malick gives us not only a sense of the "wonder of love" but also celebrates our sense of wonder in general. Our ability to be overwhelmed by our emotions for another person, nature or even God.
"To the Wonder" is a film about faiths in many shapes and strives for that forgiveness that elates our disappointments and resentments in order to finally love in a state of personal liberty and acceptance.
A movie for a few with a theme for everybody.
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