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|Index||58 reviews in total|
59 out of 88 people found the following review useful:
To The Wonder is wonderful, 2 September 2012
Author: moores-294-499779 from Australia
Terrence malick, director behind last years most discussed picture,
'The Tree of Life', has snuck his new film 'to the wonder' into the
venice film festival. I came here to see The Master, but was also
interested in Malicks new film. i was hesitant to get excited for it
though. Malick is widely regarded as a control freak as a director,
meditating for years, and releasing his films incredibly infrequently.
i felt that it was way too early between drinks for malick to release
another work. after such a personal film like TTOF, i thought this
might be more of a minor work, like how the Coen brothers did No
Country and followed up with the minimalistic screw-ball comedy 'burn
after reading'. How unprepared and wrong i was.
To The Wonder is a magnificent film. The tree of life was a towering achievement IMHO, and this film doesn't fall short by much in terms of scope, ambition and achievement. by any standards its a great film. its a strong addition to malick's small yet vital body of work. The acting is very good, but like TTOF, takes a a bit of a back seat for malick to do his thing. Affleck and McAdams a very good, as are bardem and kurylenko. i don't want to give away to many plot specifics or character details. most of that is in the lengthy plot synopsis released online yesterday anyway. it is very dream-like, and has a lack of dialogue like TTOF. it tells most of its story through imagery, music and how characters physically act towards each other. i never liked affleck as an actor before this. he's good here, but i wouldn't have minded someone else in the role.
About what affleck said yesterday. that to the wonder makes TTOF look like transformers. that statement is so exaggerated and pretty much wrong. if anything, TTOF is still more experimental than TO THE WONDER. that doesn't detract from the huge ambition of this film though. I'm so excited to see malick working quicker now. it really is a dream to have malick films in 3 successive years. next year is knight of cups. couldn't be more excited. like TTOF, this film will richly reward repeat viewing, but is a little more accessible than TTOF. people who had problems with the whole universe and dinosaurs thing in TTOF wont have to worry here. although ambitious, it is a little more grounded, and will be more palatable to a bigger audience. thats not to say that the mainstream will embrace this film, because they wont. its a malick film through and through, and i couldn't be more grateful for that.
Before i saw this, the race for my favourite film of the year had really boiled down to THE MASTER (which was great, but still processing) and BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. Malick's film has opened up the field. 5/5
38 out of 63 people found the following review useful:
To the Wonder is an empty shell, 25 September 2012
Author: artalways from Belgium
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
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.
19 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
I'm giving it 5 for cinematography and 0 for story, 27 February 2013
Author: laura_macleod from United Kingdom
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A beautiful film if you judge it from the perspective of how it looks. But this guy Malik has lost the plot. The story could have been so interesting - but he made it banal and boring and silly. So much depth wasted. It is a story of love, a guy meets a pretty but emotionally loopy woman in Paris with a child, has a man/child love affair with her, brings her back to USA where her loopiness shows no outlet except prancing around on carpets and in fields and on beds. Guy gets fed up of her and off she goes back to Paris - but no friends back there and not surprising. Meanwhile, guy has an affair with an immensely interesting woman played by the lovely Rachel McAdams, and the complexity of this combined with the return of the loopy girl, is totally wasted, and I mean totally wasted. Malik thinks it is more meaningful to show turtles swimming under the sea than to explain the complexity of love and why the guy chooses the loopy girl over the beautiful childhood love of his life. Meanwhile loopy girl prances around being annoying and fights occur. We are also treated to a half blown performance from the excellent Bardem, and that could have been so interesting, but it is only inferred and his dilemma is never really delved into - because Malik is too busy preaching about the meaning of life and existentialism versus spirituality - obvious a place where he is stuck. The end of the film is laughable because we are left with a load of inferred imagery and we never really know what happened - except one thing for sure - that loopy girl is still prancing right to the end. Mr Malik, just for your information - people go to the cinema to get a story that is life enhancing and interesting. I've given you my last chance Mr Malik and I'm done. I think your films will be used in future for lessons in perfect cinematography, as long as the content of them is ignored.
25 out of 41 people found the following review useful:
Explain nothing, show everything. A great ethereal love story., 8 March 2013
Author: Michael Open from Belfast, NI
Some people say that film is like a language, but that is not exactly
right, it is like language itself, and just as there are different
languages, there are different cinemas. It seems to me that, in his
last two films, Terrence Malick has been creating a very special type
of cinema, that had hitherto existed only in an embryonic form. While
most films have maybe 50-100 scenes, replete with dialogue and action,
Malick's new cinema (MNC) has over twice that number of scenes, but
they are fragmentary and consist of only the essence of meaning that
was in a scene that would normally have been much longer. This can be
sometimes several minutes or only a couple of brief shots.
Last evening I drove the 25 miles to see the early performance of 'To the Wonder'. I did that with the intention of returning to write this review while the film was still fresh in my mind. But after it I was so drained that I couldn't write a summary, let alone a review. At the current (late) stage in my life, what interests me most about the cinema is its limits. How far can the cinema go, and what exactly is a film?
Given the above, Terrence Malick is evidently the man for me, and I am convinced that 'The Tree of Life' is among the five greatest works of this greatest of the arts. So, after a masterpiece 30 years in the gestation and three + in the creation, how would Malick fare with a film relatively thrown together in a year or so?
On the face of it, this is a story of the relationship which starts in Paris between an American (environmentalist?), Neil, and an otherworldly French woman (Marina). When they return to mid-west America, Marina suffers from a sense of dislocation made greater when he daughter decides to go and live with her father in France.
But Malick seems much less interested in the *events* which he depicts than in expressing the feelings of the characters. Just the same way that 'The Tree of Life' was an *impression* of childhood, rather than the story of a childhood, 'To the Wonder' is an impression of a love affair, rather than its story. This is cinema infused in every shot with Heidegger's *dasein*. The logic of Malick's cinema is to *perfectly* catch the moment, and in doing so extract the truth of the experience. Hence, for Malick, a film story, is simply an assembly of 'essences'. These essences stay in the mind to thrill and haunt us.
There have been other examples of great filmmakers who have made films exploring the cinema's intimate connection with mental processes - Resnais and Bunuel come immediately to mind. But with Malick, it seems, the cinema's similarity to the mental processes of memory, dream and conjecture, have ignited a wildfire of creativity that has advanced the film art at a greater pace than has occurred since the sixties.
Here I have to admit to being only at the beginning of being able to appreciate what seems to be dizzying complexities in the film. My French is not up to totally understanding much of Marina's dialogue which, as I am in France, was not translated in the subtitles, so I am sure I have missed an entire dimension of the film. But Olga Kurylenko's performance is so magnificent, that this 'comprehension gap' didn't seem a problem.
Then there is the obvious question of the film's theme. Love, the very 'different' nature of women, dislocation in the physical, emotional and cultural senses - these are all up there writ large. But they are mixed with a nagging worry that, to return to my earlier concern, Malick has stretched the cinema to its limits, but sometimes, maybe beyond them. I do not think of myself as stupid, but I found great difficulty in grasping the relevance of certain shots or scenes. I rest convinced, however that this is another example of a film that it is necessary to watch dozens of times to find all of the poetic and meaningful connections.
I have great sympathy with those who go to the cinema wanting to be told a great story in the clearest manner possible. That is honourable and reasonable, but it is not the only experience that the cinema, this great and wonderful art of the cinema, can give. And it is certainly NOT the case that films that don't take the more prosaic approach are pretentious, meaningless or boring. 'To the Wonder' is to popular cinema what lyric poetry is to airport novels. So, if that is all you are looking for, it is best to avoid Malick's film.
But for those of us who know that beyond the sky is the limit for great cinema, Malick and MNC is the route to the stars, and 'To the Wonder' is a step, if a somewhat halting one, along that route.
30 out of 51 people found the following review useful:
A Rhythmic Design of Life Around Sustaining Love and Faith, 23 December 2012
Author: Buzzing Movie Review (email@example.com) from Canada
Terence Malick surprises everyone with a new release of romantic drama
within two years from his previous film Tree of Life, an epitome of
Malick's cosmic fixations, whereas this film can be called as a younger
sibling to it. 'To the Wonder' is a courageous movie presenting
beautiful images as Terence's film always does, with subject matter
concerned with love and God and consequences of absence of either.
Malick's visual majestic language involves the prudent style of
whispered narrative, an overwhelming orchestral score and circling
camera-work along with silent outdoor memory sequences across sunsets
evoking the hidden emotions of the characters.
We also see memories from two intense but ultimately inharmonious relationships which take the voice-over techniques, with some of the aspects of the story involving a foreign wife and an encounter with a previously known woman are said to be autobiographical for Malick. The majestic nature shots are signposts for his spiritual obsessions with most dramatic image of the movie captures Neil and his former girlfriend in the middle of a bright green field surrounded by buffalo, a prominent portrait of the American dream that cohesively connects to the context of the narrative.
Olga Kurylenko portrays great skills in playing Marina, has a dominating presence with Ben Affleck and Rachael Mcadams giving a convincing performance.The movie is visually ravishing and there is a spellbinding quality to the cutting style, creating a unique ambiance to every frame. Marina's life is in a constant state of change but the film encompasses its holy beauty in the hidden rhythmic structure which resembles the ever-changing seasons, diverse emotions and conflict within relationships due to difficulty in sustaining love and faith.
For complete review which may contain some spoilers(no major plot details) visit our website..!!
13 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Love is an ancient mistake..., 15 April 2013
...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.
6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Write on Water, 3 May 2013
Author: David Ferguson (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Dallas, Texas
Greetings again from the darkness. Director Terrence Malick makes films
that typically fall into the "love it or hate it" genre. He has a very
loyal group of fans (of which I am one) who appreciate the unique
mental and emotional ride that his projects provide. To say that his
films are not accessible is understandable. His objective is to
challenge you to access your own beliefs and thoughts, rather than the
characters in his movies ... they are simply the tools he uses.
Less than two years ago, I was struggling to put thoughts into words after watching Malick's The Tree of Life. Now, in record time for him, he releases another film that is even more impressionistic ... actually abstract is not too strong a description. The usual Malick elements are present - nature, uncomfortable relationships, minimal dialogue, breathtaking photography, and powerful music. Where The Tree of Life focused on Creation and Family, this latest takes on Love and Faith.
Water imagery is a frequent key as we see the personal relationship mimic the changing of the seasons. Neil (Ben Affleck), an American visiting Paris, meets and falls for Marina (Olga Kurylenko), a free-spirited local filled with light and energy. Their love affair moves to the stunning Mont Saint-Michel before settling in the drab plains of Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
It's not surprising that the relationship suffers as the newness wears thin. The interesting part is how Malick presents it. We mostly witness bits and pieces ... he shows us moments, not events. We easily see that Neil's aloofness and sullen looks don't jibe with Marina's effervescence. When she returns to Paris, Neil easily falls in with an old flame played by Rachel McAdams. When she later accuses him of making what they had "nothing", we all understand what she means ... and why.
While Neil is proving what a lost soul he is, we also meet Father Quintana (Javier Bardem). He has lost the light of his faith and is in full crisis mode, even as he attempts to console and guide Marina. There is no secret that much of this film is autobiographical and that Malick is working through wounds he still carries these many years later. As a movie-goer, there is little to be gained from Alleck's disconnected character or from Kurylenko dancing in the rain. The real prize is awakening the thoughts and feelings many of us probably buried over the years to hide emotional pain. Malick seems to be saying that it's OK to acknowledge your foundation, regardless of your ability to succeed in a socially acceptable manner.
If you prefer not to dig so deep emotionally, this is a beautiful film to look at - thanks to Director of Photograpy Emmanuel Lubezki (a frequent Malick collaborator), and listen to - a blended soundtrack with many notable pieces from various composers. While this will be remembered as Roger Ebert's final movie review (he liked it very much), it will likely have very little appeal to the average movie watcher - and I'm confident that Terrence Malick is fine with that.
7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Flashes of memory, before %@^* passes on...., 26 April 2013
Author: BergmanLynch from United States
one of my favorite things about to the wonder IS the fact that I cant connect or relate to the characters. I like how it feels like flashes of memory. I like that we never hear anyones name. I like how we float above the characters and swoop in when Malick wants us to. its just another way to tell a story. malick and everyone else has done it the other way many times. I can imagine just fine what backstory malick would have given these characters... its no big deal... you don't need it every time. A lot of the people who loved the tree of life, which by the way is one of the best 5 movies ever, couldn't find anything to hold onto with this one. I guess we've found those peoples limits for this type of story telling. I guess people think if there's not more structure or character development that the movies too easy to make, or it can be faked or something. I guess I see this is just the next level of needing to be spoon fed something, just like how Hollywood films spoon feed you most of the time. We've found a cut off point within art house fans. TTOL to TTW for some is like Mulholland Dr. to INLAND EMPIRE for Lynch fans. Most just couldn't go further down the bunny hole because it looks like its mocking itself or is forced or something. Neither is true, all four of these movies are perfect. All Im saying is I want to see the boundaries of cinema get stretched and thats what this is. this is definitely something you experience on a different level than TTOL. Its more of a dreamy/memory type thing so you have to find the creativity and art in that world... almost like surrealism, but something different. Maybe more people just like the old Malick. Maybe the new Malick is better. Maybe this film is flashes of memory malick has since this movies based on a time in his own life. I hope Malick stays on this path and goes further if he can somehow.
16 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
Terrence Malick beautifully continues his cinematic journey., 13 April 2013
Author: Mitch_Rockwell from United States
You've just created a film, widely considered to be your magnum opus,
encompassing a scope as epic as depicting the literal creation of the
universe and the afterlife. So, what do you do next? If you're Terrence
Malick, you take things in a more intimate direction with a domestic
psychodrama detailing the coming together and falling apart of an
American man and French woman. Played by Ben Affleck and Olga
Kurylenko, with support from Rachel McAdams as a former flame and
Javier Bardem as a troubled priest, the drama at the core of To the
Wonder is semi- autobiographical for the filmmaker and yet it's
ultimately just a metaphor for his more universal themes of faith and
love. Played without a traditional narrative structure and mostly told
in whispered voice-over inserted atop hand-held footage of the lovers
in the throws of emotion, To the Wonder could easily be the director's
most polarizing work to date, but for this viewer it worked like a
Marking only the sixth feature in his 40-year career, Malick's infamous habit of taking many years to produce his films has taken a sharp turn, as To the Wonder's release comes only two years after his previous effort, The Tree of Life. One couldn't be blamed for having worry that his quick turnaround would result in something less inspired or comprehensive, but to my surprise I found To the Wonder to be his most emotionally potent work to date. Watching it, you get the feeling that this is a cinematic journey Malick had been sitting on for a long time and after he got the epic saga of The Tree of Life out of his system he was finally able to tell it. Of course, this being Malick, things were never going to be told by way of conventional narrative and at this point in his career the plots of his films have become practically inconsequential, serving as only the most basic of platforms for the cinematic poetry that he lays out on top of it all.
I'm sure one can interpret To the Wonder in many different ways and some viewers have left perplexed as to what it all means, but for me it was rather straightforward. As he did with The Tree of Life, Malick uses a domestic drama as a metaphor to enhance a throughline of universal themes. Those themes are delivered primarily through Bardem's priest character, who spends his time wandering directionless and ruminating on whether god has left us or if he's waiting to be found. Presenting that question on the absence of god unfolds a greater depth to the dismantling of the relationship between Affleck and Kurylenko's characters, perhaps positing that with his absence also comes the absence of love. To the Wonder marks Malick's first film to take place entirely in the modern day, and it should come as no surprise to anyone that it's this modern setting that provides the environment for their romantic unraveling.
As the film begins, the two lovebirds are as free as can be, frolicking as pure and innocent as children through wide open nature. They play in the sand and waves on the beach (not coincidentally the setting for Malick's afterlife in his previous effort, perhaps foreshadowing the eventual outcome of their romance) and it's when they return to the modern suburbia that things start to come apart. Malick has always been an artist who has clashed with the modern nature of man, and To the Wonder is another representation of that, as one could leave with the feeling that he thinks there is no more room for that kind of pure love and freedom in this modern world. It's a rather harsh perspective, but Malick depicts it in a way that still manages to capture and illuminate the beauty that is out there within our grasp if we can only take the time to embrace it. It's free in the open air, ready for us all, if only we can break from the cages that our modern world has locked us in.
Through Affleck's commanding physical presence, Malick keeps the film grounded to the earth but it's with Kurylenko that he takes it to a more effervescent place and she really soars with his guidance. An actress who has mostly spent her career so far going the traditional post-model route of starring as eye candy in action films, Kurylenko gives a performance here that shows she has so much more to offer the world than what she's been allowed to give. A stunning collaboration of artist and muse, there is a purity to Kurylenko's portrayal that is frankly undefinable but captures an utterly enchanting beauty that brings the audience with her on a wide emotional spectrum. When she's free as a bird, enraptured in the the throes of love and the wonder of life, your heart soars along with her and I found myself stuck with a wide smile on my face. Yet when the romance turns and she's locked inside her domestic cage, broken and stripped of that love, your heart breaks along with hers and there's a brutal tragedy that overwhelms the emotional palette. It's an absolutely stunning performance that magnificently captures and compliments the poetic, ethereal quality of Malick's filmmaking approach.
17 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
Really Fantastic, 12 April 2013
Author: giantpanther from United States
This film got a VOD release same day as its theatrical release which I
really appreciate. I paid 8 dollars to watch it on demand and I would
have paid the same or a bit more to see it in theaters with noisy
people. It's not just the convenience its just I do not want to be
interrupted while watching a Malick film and people's theater manners
are horrible in Texas (where I live) I mean there's no sense. So I
don't want to deal with laughter from people laughing at un-funny
moments or things like that. I will pay to go see this in the theater
next week I am sure as I want to experience the big screen version of
it, but the first time I watch something I know has the potential to be
great I really need to focus in on it.
I waited a few weeks to see the Tree of Life because I wanted to go when it wasn't crowded, because of Tree of Life I decided to watch this the same day it was released. I have always known of Malick more or less, or at least since I became aware of cinema and his first four movies I appreciated and respected but I didn't necessarily enjoy them. These last two I mean he has really hit his stride and I look forward to all of his upcoming stuff.
I read a fair amount of reviews before seeing this film and each one was all over the place, some praising this film others saying it failed so I went in with a pretty level head knowing this could potentially disappoint somewhat but still be beautiful to look at. I suppose the fact that I watched the trailers for this film at least 50 times should have indicated to me I would be into this style. What you need to understand is dialogue is not very important in this film but I actually found it more accessible than the Tree of Life. I really enjoyed the Tree of Life but it was pretty heavy, there wasn't too much lightness to it, which isn't to say To The Wonder is all care free and light hearted but its a little easier to swallow than Tree of Life.
The plot isn't that important, the images are whats important here, and the voice over which is all over the place. I didn't think this would be better than The Tree of Life, I mean it's no small thing to top that film but I am proud to say I think this is Malick's best it's just really very beautiful and subtle. A lot of people will go to see this and just be confused and angry at the flow of things, how the camera and scenes drift but I love it.
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