If you thought Terrence Malick’s previous film, the rapturously-praised The Tree of Life, was a pretentious drag, then it’s unlikely that the filmmaker’s latest opus, To the Wonder, will do much to change your opinion. Although it’s his most conventional film, so to speak, it’s also a shamelessly ponderous affair in which characters frolic in the fields, watching sunsets, sunrises and other stunning vistas with childlike glee. There’s not much in ways of plot but Ben Affleck plays an American named Neil who marries a childlike French woman named Marina (Olga Kurylenko) and takes her with him to the United States after a brief torrid affair in France. But soon, trouble begins to brew in paradise. Marina becomes bored of her boring lifestyle as a housewife in the United States. She seeks the help of a priest named Quintana (Javier Bardem) to help her with her marriage but he too is struggling with love i.e. his faith. Meanwhile, Neil is taking solace in the arms of a former lover (Rachel McAdams). The general takeaway here is of the cruel nature of love – be it romantic or platonic – and how it eventually dries up like a stream. In theory, these themes should be interesting but Malick leaves a little too much up to the viewer to decipher. This is Malick mining previously milked territory. This is as pretentious as cinema gets. This is what all J. Crew catalogs should look like.
To the Wonder is now available on DVD and on VOD.