Director Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck is whimsical and enchanting. The film is captivating at times.
Ben is a young boy living in the 1970s who wants to know who is father is. Rose is a girl in the 1920s obsessed with a silent movie star. Both Ben and Rose’s obsessions lead them to New York City…
Based on Brian Selznick’s novel, with a screenplay written by Selznick himself, Wonderstruck is a charming tale of friendship and discovery. The film focuses on two strands which eventually become entwined. Each of these strands are depicted in a distinct way.
The film blends mystery with drama, and a little bit of comedy. Haynes’ protagonists are children, and he positions viewers to see things through their eyes. There is a sense of wonder which is unshakeable. The astonishment at being in Manhattan will be familiar to anyone who has been to the city as a visitor.
Given that the protagonists are deaf, it is no surprise that there is not an abundance of dialogue. This does not hinder Haynes from conveying emotions, or nuance. The burgeoning friendship between Ben and Jamie is lovely to watch. Rose, meanwhile, comes into her own in the second half of the film.
Cinematography in the film is great. New York is beautifully photographed in both eras the film is set. Haynes draws a distinction between periods with the use of colour and black and white. This is further emphasised by Carter Burwell’s brilliant score, and the soundtrack overall. Performances in the film are great, especially from the young cast. Oakes Fegley, Millicent Simmonds and Jaden Michael are all great, and Julianne Moore is as reliable as ever.
Wonderstruck is an ode to curiosity. It is sometimes sentimental but ever so charming.
Wonderstruck is screening at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2017.