Latest Movie News Headlines

Review: To The Wonder (TIFF 2012)

Sep. 12, 2012by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: A Frenchwoman (Olga Kurylenko) and her young daughter are brought to rural Oklahoma to live with the enigmatic Neil (Ben Affleck).

REVIEW: TO THE WONDER is Terrence Malick as his most pretentious, or rather- Malick-y. Formerly a director that could take up to decades between films (such as the twenty year gap between DAYS OF HEAVEN and THE THIN RED LINE), the newly prolific Malick is back with a film that takes the elements that many people found infuriating about TREE OF LIFE, and expands them to feature length.


More of a two-hour tone poem than a film, TO THE WONDER really strikes me as little more than Malick's B-roll from TREE OF LIFE, juiced up the appearances of stars like Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem and Olga Kurylenko, although they're all treated as window dressing. In fact, TO THE WONDER is completely devoid of any consequential dialogue, with everything being explained by the mostly French narration, which is full of knee-slappers like explain this love that loves- which sounds like the ramblings of a lovesick emo college kid.

And the twirling... Let's not forget the twirling. For some reason, Malick keeps Kurylenko and Rachel McAdams (in a tiny aside that could have been cut from the film without anyone ever being the wiser) in a constant state of motion, with them twirling their way through corn fields, department stores, sparsely decorate homes, etc. Rest assured, anywhere there's room to twirl, they'll twirl.

One thing that I should make clear is that, while it occasionally infuriated me, I really liked TREE OF LIFE. While it meandered, it was gorgeous (as is TO THE WONDER, with them both having been shot by Emmanuel Lubezki), and the story was affecting. But, TO THE WONDER has absolutely nothing going on, other than Affleck (who has maybe five lines of dialogue) struggling to love his new family- with his coldness being paralleled by the dying land he surveys (Malick shoots Wal-Mart style department stores with disgust).


In addition to the aside with McAdams, Malick also includes a completely extraneous subplot with Javier Bardem as a priest suffering through a crisis of faith, but- and here's the rub, the twenty minutes with Bardem are far superior to anything else in the film. His interactions with the townsfolk, many of whom seem to be non-actors, are fascinating- with his intellectual Spanish priest seeming like an alien among them, although Bardem conveys a lot of compassion. This part might have sustained a film, but sadly, Malick is more interested in grass and twirling.

While I disliked TO THE WONDER, I'm sure there are some Malick devotees who will love it, and say that I missed the point, didn't appreciate the imagery, needed to drink more coffee before, etc. That's fine- different strokes for different folks, but if Malick is going to continue to appeal to anyone outside of an incredibly niche audience, he needs to at least tell a compelling story. Whatever it is, TO THE WONDER is far from compelling.

Source: JoBlo.com

MORE FUN FROM AROUND THE WEB

Strikeback
Not registered? Sign-up!
Or

12:34PM on 02/28/2013
So many negative ratings and snubs on here from movies that sound really original and interesting, yet I haven't seen them advertised. The poor ratings sort of explains why intriguing tv shows are being canceled for more dumbed down reality tv. I can't wait to see celebrities splash into a pool on their faces from high diving boars!
So many negative ratings and snubs on here from movies that sound really original and interesting, yet I haven't seen them advertised. The poor ratings sort of explains why intriguing tv shows are being canceled for more dumbed down reality tv. I can't wait to see celebrities splash into a pool on their faces from high diving boars!
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
10:44PM on 09/12/2012
Malick is a love/hate type of filmmaker. I personally don't give two fucks if anyone on here hates him. That's your choice, whether you made it up carefully, over seeing all of his films - or rashly, by seeing TOL, or not seeing any of his work alone. I've realized one thing and that is the fact that more likely than not, the people who like, or even love his films, have some traits of Malick's personality, the introverted, the constantly pondering type of people. I'm able to enjoy his films
Malick is a love/hate type of filmmaker. I personally don't give two fucks if anyone on here hates him. That's your choice, whether you made it up carefully, over seeing all of his films - or rashly, by seeing TOL, or not seeing any of his work alone. I've realized one thing and that is the fact that more likely than not, the people who like, or even love his films, have some traits of Malick's personality, the introverted, the constantly pondering type of people. I'm able to enjoy his films not because his films are beautifully shot, but because somehow I can see what's on screen, and feel what the characters are feeling. That's important with Malick. If you can't feel it, then obviously his stuff doesn't resonate with you. If you need dialogue to have certain emotions be verbalized to you, then that's just what you like. Don't forget, however, "Cinema" is 'imagery' too - did everyone forget the Silent era? Even without the 'Caption dialogue' we could understand what was going on... something to think about.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
1:09PM on 09/14/2012
to the haters of this comment: get skullfucked
to the haters of this comment: get skullfucked
10:25PM on 09/12/2012
Drink more coffee, Bumbray
Drink more coffee, Bumbray
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+4
4:05PM on 09/12/2012
To all those being condescending to people that don't like or "get" Malick -- I highly doubt you "get" him either.
To all those being condescending to people that don't like or "get" Malick -- I highly doubt you "get" him either.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
3:33PM on 09/12/2012
Sounds like a Malick film indeed! At this point I personally just trust him blindly cause I know I'm always in for a treat when I sit down to watch one of his films. I think that what he does might not be for everyone due to his lack of standard storytelling and I can totally see why some folks might not dig his work, but it also solidifies him as one of the very few unique directors working today. Can`t wait to see this one.

And the gap between Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line was 20
Sounds like a Malick film indeed! At this point I personally just trust him blindly cause I know I'm always in for a treat when I sit down to watch one of his films. I think that what he does might not be for everyone due to his lack of standard storytelling and I can totally see why some folks might not dig his work, but it also solidifies him as one of the very few unique directors working today. Can`t wait to see this one.

And the gap between Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line was 20 years, not 29.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
3:18PM on 09/12/2012

To my fellow schmoes

I hope you all know not all Malick fans are condescending and are OKAY with people having a different opinion on the man. I'm a huge fan of Malick, but have never understood the people that look down on others for not being into his films. He's the quintessential love/hate filmmaker out there today. Oh well.

Many of the reviews for this one have been similar to this. I remember reading one that basically said "it'll separate the boys from the men" in terms of Malick fandom. Either way, I
I hope you all know not all Malick fans are condescending and are OKAY with people having a different opinion on the man. I'm a huge fan of Malick, but have never understood the people that look down on others for not being into his films. He's the quintessential love/hate filmmaker out there today. Oh well.

Many of the reviews for this one have been similar to this. I remember reading one that basically said "it'll separate the boys from the men" in terms of Malick fandom. Either way, I expect to see something I normally don't get the chance to in today's theaters.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+3
1:01PM on 09/12/2012
i hated tree of life and i'm surely not gonna watch this ever
i hated tree of life and i'm surely not gonna watch this ever
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
12:57PM on 09/12/2012

@ShawnNova

Academy Awards??? Just remember - Three Six Mafia had an Oscar before Martin Scorsese. "Norbit" has an Oscar Nom. I am pretty sure the Academy is shit. Roberto Begnini ring a bell?? Academy has no credibility.
Academy Awards??? Just remember - Three Six Mafia had an Oscar before Martin Scorsese. "Norbit" has an Oscar Nom. I am pretty sure the Academy is shit. Roberto Begnini ring a bell?? Academy has no credibility.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+2
12:46PM on 09/12/2012
So if you dislike a Malick film you're a simple idiot who doesn't understand what a real good film is?
So if you dislike a Malick film you're a simple idiot who doesn't understand what a real good film is?
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
-11
12:13PM on 09/12/2012
Incredibly Niche audience? The Academy Awards?! I think he's okay without your approval as long as he keeps getting nominated for the phenomenal work he does that was never intended for simpletons anyway.
Incredibly Niche audience? The Academy Awards?! I think he's okay without your approval as long as he keeps getting nominated for the phenomenal work he does that was never intended for simpletons anyway.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
12:56PM on 09/12/2012
Academy Awards??? Just remember - Three Six Mafia had an Oscar before Martin Scorsese. "Norbit" has an Oscar Nom. I am pretty sure the Academy is shit. Roberto Begnini ring a bell?? Academy has no credibility.
Academy Awards??? Just remember - Three Six Mafia had an Oscar before Martin Scorsese. "Norbit" has an Oscar Nom. I am pretty sure the Academy is shit. Roberto Begnini ring a bell?? Academy has no credibility.
12:56PM on 09/12/2012
To the Wonder is nominated for no Academy Awards. Perhaps it will be, but Tree of Life only got three nominations, and had been getting amazing buzz all last year. The New Wold didn't get any noms (though it was a pretty good movie). Not to put too much importance on the Academy, but if his work stops getting that sort of attention (from any festivals and awards shows), then I think niche wlll be the operative term. Not that there is really anything wrong with that really.
To the Wonder is nominated for no Academy Awards. Perhaps it will be, but Tree of Life only got three nominations, and had been getting amazing buzz all last year. The New Wold didn't get any noms (though it was a pretty good movie). Not to put too much importance on the Academy, but if his work stops getting that sort of attention (from any festivals and awards shows), then I think niche wlll be the operative term. Not that there is really anything wrong with that really.
1:06PM on 09/12/2012
Its obvious you are Malick fan and you liked this movie, which is cool. However, insulting people for not liking a movie you like is not cool.
Its obvious you are Malick fan and you liked this movie, which is cool. However, insulting people for not liking a movie you like is not cool.
-10
12:08PM on 09/12/2012
Ridiculous, very ridiculous - you need your story given to you through exposition and dialogue like TDKR "The Hard slate drive - the hard drive that wipes a criminal's record clean (twice in the film)" instead of being shown something through moving photographs and soliloquy's ?
Absolutely ridiculous - Malick doesn't need to spoonfeed his audiences like most directors do. You can analyze a sequence of 5, 10, 60 shots strung and edited together with music in a Malick film and those images and
Ridiculous, very ridiculous - you need your story given to you through exposition and dialogue like TDKR "The Hard slate drive - the hard drive that wipes a criminal's record clean (twice in the film)" instead of being shown something through moving photographs and soliloquy's ?
Absolutely ridiculous - Malick doesn't need to spoonfeed his audiences like most directors do. You can analyze a sequence of 5, 10, 60 shots strung and edited together with music in a Malick film and those images and "nature shots" people complain about will tell more of a goddamn story than Nolan and his brother can in 150 pages of goddamn flawed writing.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
12:06PM on 09/12/2012

Blah

Why doesn't he just shoot videos then?? Yes, he is visual but that doesn't make him a great film director. Malick is proof that studios aren't always about making money. If they can let him make incoherent films, why not let someone making a Die Hard film or an Alien film have complete control??
Why doesn't he just shoot videos then?? Yes, he is visual but that doesn't make him a great film director. Malick is proof that studios aren't always about making money. If they can let him make incoherent films, why not let someone making a Die Hard film or an Alien film have complete control??
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
11:33AM on 09/12/2012

Days of Heaven and Badlands are still amazing.

Even if he's focused less on narrative over the years, those two films are essentials for anyone studying or even just enjoying film.
Even if he's focused less on narrative over the years, those two films are essentials for anyone studying or even just enjoying film.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+5
10:48AM on 09/12/2012
Malick creates amazing visuals, but I don't care for his movies at all. Malick fanboys are just lake any other group of fanboys. His stuff appeals to certain types, but Malick isn't above criticism (and he DOES make niche films).
Malick creates amazing visuals, but I don't care for his movies at all. Malick fanboys are just lake any other group of fanboys. His stuff appeals to certain types, but Malick isn't above criticism (and he DOES make niche films).
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
10:36AM on 09/12/2012
I was afraid of this. I like Malick's visual style. I like every one of his movies by degrees. But watching the progression from The Thin Red Line to Tree of Life, as each film became less interested in story than the last. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but then again, maybe because he didn't have as much of a break between Tree of Life and To the Wonder, or maybe he's just interested in photography and meditation. He is a singular kind of director either way.
I was afraid of this. I like Malick's visual style. I like every one of his movies by degrees. But watching the progression from The Thin Red Line to Tree of Life, as each film became less interested in story than the last. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but then again, maybe because he didn't have as much of a break between Tree of Life and To the Wonder, or maybe he's just interested in photography and meditation. He is a singular kind of director either way.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
9:27AM on 09/12/2012

damn...

Sucks to hear. I know many people didn't dig ToL, but there was a lot more to it than meets the eye, doesn't seem I'll be able to say the same for this one. Still curious because its Malick, but definitely took the air out my tires.
Sucks to hear. I know many people didn't dig ToL, but there was a lot more to it than meets the eye, doesn't seem I'll be able to say the same for this one. Still curious because its Malick, but definitely took the air out my tires.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
8:03AM on 09/12/2012
I am still going to give this a shot once it heads my way, but the review was very well written and articulated, giving me something to keep in mind when I do see it.
I am still going to give this a shot once it heads my way, but the review was very well written and articulated, giving me something to keep in mind when I do see it.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
6:53AM on 09/12/2012
I bet he shot enough footage of Bardem and his storyline to make a whole movie out of it.

For such a reclusive and spiritual director Malick sure has some psychopathic fans. Chill the fuck out fellas, go twirl and philosophize about loving love or something.

I'll still give this a shot though, his good films are good enough for me to not yet have given up on the man. But I really hope that he'll make something more accessible/coherent in the future, dude needs to change his shtick up a
I bet he shot enough footage of Bardem and his storyline to make a whole movie out of it.

For such a reclusive and spiritual director Malick sure has some psychopathic fans. Chill the fuck out fellas, go twirl and philosophize about loving love or something.

I'll still give this a shot though, his good films are good enough for me to not yet have given up on the man. But I really hope that he'll make something more accessible/coherent in the future, dude needs to change his shtick up a bit. I'd love to see a Malick style crime drama.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
4:40AM on 09/12/2012
Incredibly niche audience? Any TRUE fan of Terrence Malick is a true fan of some of the finest cinema out there and one of the greatest directors working today.
Incredibly niche audience? Any TRUE fan of Terrence Malick is a true fan of some of the finest cinema out there and one of the greatest directors working today.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
8:01AM on 09/12/2012
Of his former work, yes! But if this review is accurate, and no real story is being told, then yes, it will only appeal to a niche audience, how does that not make sense?
Of his former work, yes! But if this review is accurate, and no real story is being told, then yes, it will only appeal to a niche audience, how does that not make sense?
12:09PM on 09/12/2012
I'm with you Justin.
I'm with you Justin.
3:46AM on 09/12/2012

@ShawnNova...

And you need to rethink the way you judge other people simply because they don't like someone or something that you do. Either that or keep quiet when it comes to what other people consider to be "cinema". If you wish to think TDKR is for simple-minded folk that's fine even though it's one of the most retarded statements ever made here. Malick only lives in the shadows of a brilliant writer and director like Christopher Nolan and his pretentiousness and inability to tell a story will be his
And you need to rethink the way you judge other people simply because they don't like someone or something that you do. Either that or keep quiet when it comes to what other people consider to be "cinema". If you wish to think TDKR is for simple-minded folk that's fine even though it's one of the most retarded statements ever made here. Malick only lives in the shadows of a brilliant writer and director like Christopher Nolan and his pretentiousness and inability to tell a story will be his undoing.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
10:32PM on 09/12/2012
If you think that telling a story can only be achieved through words and dialogue only - then that's a simple minded way of looking at cinema. Afterall, "Cinema" itself is comprised of images. Did you forget the Silent era? Yeah...
If you think that telling a story can only be achieved through words and dialogue only - then that's a simple minded way of looking at cinema. Afterall, "Cinema" itself is comprised of images. Did you forget the Silent era? Yeah...
3:40AM on 09/12/2012
Doesn't know how to tell a story and never will. Anybody can have impressive visuals and pretend to be artsy but telling a story is the difficult part, that's why I'll never consider him to be amongst other top directors.
Doesn't know how to tell a story and never will. Anybody can have impressive visuals and pretend to be artsy but telling a story is the difficult part, that's why I'll never consider him to be amongst other top directors.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
12:02PM on 09/12/2012
Couldn't say it better myself. Only seen one of his films - "Tree of Life." Besides some of his visuals, the film was utterly boring. Cannot understand his style of storytelling and will receive backlash because of it.
Couldn't say it better myself. Only seen one of his films - "Tree of Life." Besides some of his visuals, the film was utterly boring. Cannot understand his style of storytelling and will receive backlash because of it.
10:29PM on 09/12/2012
one film is not enough. It's like listening to one tune off an album - and not knowing what the rest is like.
one film is not enough. It's like listening to one tune off an album - and not knowing what the rest is like.
-20
1:26AM on 09/12/2012
To The Wonder was such a compellingly beautiful story about the lengths people will go to find answers for love and god, and the damage these lengths take on them as the realities of their answers dawn on them....
Different Strokes for Different Folks? Come on.
To The Wonder was such a compellingly beautiful story about the lengths people will go to find answers for love and god, and the damage these lengths take on them as the realities of their answers dawn on them....
Different Strokes for Different Folks? Come on.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
-36
1:23AM on 09/12/2012
Chris, you really need to rethink your sense of cinema, writing reviews like this. Sorry Terrence Malick doesn't make shitty movies like TDKR for the simple-minded folk (TDKR a huge incredibly shocking step-down from the masterpiece that is TDK)
Chris, you really need to rethink your sense of cinema, writing reviews like this. Sorry Terrence Malick doesn't make shitty movies like TDKR for the simple-minded folk (TDKR a huge incredibly shocking step-down from the masterpiece that is TDK)
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
View All Comments

Latest Movie News Headlines


Top
Loading...
JoBlo's T-Shirt Shoppe | support our site... Wear Our Gear!