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
I have always wondered about people who give one star reviews. Is it for the extra attention? Is it a joke? Can a movie really deserve one star?
Well finally I have seen a movie which simply does not permit me to give it any more than one star. A movie that has prompted me to create an IMDb account and write this review so that other cinema goers do not have to share the mind numbing agony of my experience.
My woes stem from the fact that "To the Wonder" seems to be an experiment into expressing nothing but the emotions of love and loss. Initially this seems a noble cause, but it comes at the expense of plot, dialogue and even character development. So if you sit through the first 30 minutes thinking "I wonder if anything is going to happen?", sadly the answer is "no".
There seems to be the assumption that an audience can share in the on screen emotion without ever being given access to the motivations and events which led to them. It is like watching The English Patient and trying to understand Ralph Fiennes' emotional turmoil without being shown the flashbacks of his life before hospital. So without any narrative or dialogue, the poor actors are left trying to convey their emotions by looking gloomy (as Ben Affleck does for the entire movie) or by performing pirouettes and looking wistfully into glinting autumn sunshine (for Olga Kurylenko).
If you are a huge fan of the back of Ben Affleck's head, you'll love this movie. For me the only enjoyment was in the irony that a film about emotion should be so emotionally uninvolving. That and the joy of seeing the end credits finally roll, upon which I punched the air and shouted "Yes!" This is something I have never felt the need to do before in a cinema, and it certainly surprised my wife (who looked mortified). I didn't care. This film marked a new found level of tedium, so extreme that it should probably be reserved for Guantanamo Bay. One star tedium? You bet.
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