My rating: 7
IMDB rating: 6.0
IMDB link: To the Wonder
I believe that you will find only a few movies throughout the course of your life which are as difficult to watch as the film. And it is not because it is explicit or gory or violence filled- it is because it shows a dimension of reality which is uncomfortably close to your own.
Terrence Malick, the director of the film, is able to connect the characters and the viewer that is quite touching. One feels Neil’s inability to love and connect to both Marina and Jane, but more than that the viewer is able to justify his actions without him ever having to defend himself. In other words, the viewer feels what Neil feels; the way he can love, but not commit or be present in the relationship.
There is a very unique voyeuristic quality to this. As the viewer, being able to connect with the characters on this level, it adds another dimension to one’s understanding, but in another sense one is still morally bound to reject Neil’s actions- mainly because one also connects with both Jane and Marina.
The two woman are quite different and the fact that he ‘chooses’ both of them is therefore very significant. It is, in other words, not the person in the relationship which he cannot commit to or fully love, it is the relationships themselves. In a psychoanalytic sense it is most probably himself that he is disconnected from, and that in turn causes the failure in the relationships.
Both the direction and cinematography in this film is quite expertly done. Lovely landscape scenes with soft hues, is contrasted to the more dull looking Paris cityscape (which seems impossible, but is quite well done). Empty rooms and houses are often shown, especially Neil’s house, which could also be a direct metaphor for his investment/place within the relationship.
It is certainly worth while to watch the “making of” documentary of this film, which can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mYCDuxl3tU
Not everything in the film I liked. I could, for example, not really grasp the purpose of Javier Bardem’s character in the film. Some people also find Malick’s type of filmmaking quite pretentious and overdone.
This film is definitely for the serious arthouse lover. The progress is slow, the film is quite long and nothing truly happens.
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Roger Ebert: To the Wonder (Fun Fact: This was the last movie review Roger Ebert filed)