Film Review: To The Wonder

Beautifully photographed, those who become immersed in Terrence Malick’s vision will find To The Wonder thought provoking. Those that do not may find the film a chore.

After embarking on a romance with Marina in Paris, American Neil asks her to move back to Oklahoma with him. Marina meets a priest who his struggling with his faith, while Neil connects with Jane, a friend from his childhood…

Director and writer Terence Malick tells his story through narration and visuals. Dialogue is present, but it is kept to a minimum. Even the voiceover is used sparingly, with Malick preferring to rely on images to move the story along.

The themes in To The Wonder are more potent than the narrative. The film concerns itself with love and faith. The theme of love is dealt with through Marina’s character, while faith is conveyed through Father Quintana. It is no coincidence that these characters dominate the narration. Likewise they are the most interesting of the four main characters.

To The Wonder explores these themes, without offering any firm judgement or opinion on them. Instead, the audience are left with their own thoughts. To an extent, Malick’s film lacks real substance. It is not imbued with concrete ideas, or an unambiguous narrative. The imagery and sometimes poetic narration allow viewers a form of escapism, even time alone with their thoughts on the themes. Those not engaged by To The Wonder may find this dull however.

Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography is as beautiful as ever. He really makes the most of the natural light and the landscapes. There is some familiar imagery in To The Wonder; those who have seen Malick’s previous films should recognise this. Performances are good overall, particularly Olga Kurylenko’s Marina.

To The Wonder is not Malick’s best work, but it is an interesting forage into love.

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