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Terrence Malick's 'To The Wonder' Review: A Brilliant Christian Film

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By Emma Koonse , Christian Post Reporter
April 8, 2013|10:03 am

In a new film by Terrence Malick, a star-studded cast offers a pensive, quiet glimpse of one man's struggle with love and another man's yearning for God in "To The Wonder."

  • To The Wonder
    (Photo: Magnolia Pictures and Redbud Pictures)
    Terrence Malick-directed "To The Wonder" stars Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams, and Javier Bardem.

Director of 2011's critically acclaimed "Tree of Life" which starred Brad Pitt, Malick offers yet another beautiful example of cinematography with "To The Wonder."

Malick's impressive cast includes "Argo" superstar Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem, and newcomer Olga Kurylenko.

Straight off of his numerous acting and directing accolades for "The Town" at the time, Affleck admitted having planned a much-needed break from acting. However, being a huge fan of Malick, Affleck jumped at the opportunity to be a part of one of the rare "once in a lifetime" film by Malick.

"To The Wonder" closely resembles a 2-hour series of carefully shot photographs instead of movie scenes, and the audience is transported to Paris as well as the American West.

Malick is renowned for his use of unconventional and brilliant methods of storytelling. "To The Wonder" offers a new take on traditional Christian questions on suffering, grace and divine presence, and many other elements of human nature.

Seemingly obsessed by the concept of innocence, the director intentionally features the lead character, Marina (Kurylenko), as a child-like divorcee. She serves as a conflicted love interest of Neil, a native of Oklahoma portrayed by Ben Affleck. Marina is constantly spinning and playing carelessly as the film follows the cycles of the love- passion, sympathy, obligation, sorrow, and indecision.

In another deliberate move, Malick makes the limited dialogue in "To The Wonder" almost completely inaudible. Set to music by Hanan Townshend, most of the conversations in the film permit only the gist of the situation between characters, or more interestingly, require the audience to draw their own personal conclusions.

Meanwhile, as Affleck struggles to choose between Marina and a woman from his past, Jane [Rachel McAdams], a priest is enduring a period of withdrawal and thirst for God's love.

Similar to Marina, Father Quintana (Javier Bardem) is struggling with his vocation. Spending time helping the poor is the only remedy to the pain the priest is experiencing.

"To The Wonder" is an archetypal Malick film boasting all of the same themes included in past films- love, betrayal, isolation, and faith. In fact, fans have deemed the emotional film as one of the most "Malick-y" projects yet.

Having helmed just six films over a 4-decade career, Malick exudes an air of inimitability through his projects. The Academy Award-nominated director almost never talks about his own work; instead, he prefers to discuss the elements found in some of his favorite Italian films.

Also, the director's reputation is heightened by his reserve- few details are known about the 69-year-old's personal life. Malick is well known to be shy, and has given very few and quite guarded interviews.

"To The Wonder" is scheduled to hit selected theaters on April 12. The film debuted at both the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and the 2012 Venice Film Festival, where it earned the SIGNIS Award.

It is worth mentioning that "To The Wonder" was the last film the late critic Roger Ebert ever reviewed before his death last week.

Malick has also recently completed filming another project. While details are scarce, Ryan Gosling stars in the yet-to-be-titled film.

 

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