Feature

To the Wonder

A lyrical exploration of romantic love

Directed by Terrence Malick(R)

***

Terrence Malick’s latest rumination on love and life could be “the most formally radical” American feature ever released, said Richard Corliss in Time. Like 2011’s The Tree of Life, this Malick project is largely “a ramble through the ecstasies of the natural world” held together by a wispy story about a human relationship, but here the reclusive auteur offers less narrative glue than ever. For those on his wavelength, “it’s a wonder.” Yet in any storytelling medium, “beauty isn’t enough,” said David Denby in The New Yorker. Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko star as a couple who fall in love in Paris before moving to Oklahoma, but they “never say more than a few words to each other” as they compete for attention with sunsets and wind-rippled fields. When the lovers drift apart, we blame Malick, not the characters, because we hardly know them. Still, physical intimacy “turns out to be a natural subject” for Malick’s camera, said Justin Chang in Variety. To the Wonder’s gorgeous, languid sex scenes give the film an emotional charge, making it perhaps the director’s “most relatable evocation yet of paradise lost.”

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