Friday, April 12, 2013

To the Wonder (2012)- What is the love that lives among us? (3½ Stars)

The second film in Terrence Malick's self-named Texas Trilogy, with the first being the moving Tree of Life, and the third presumably set in the Austin music scene. That all is besides the point. Right now is To the Wonder, a film shot with an expert's eye, told with expert abstractness, and requiring an expert amount of attention, if that makes any sense.

The story begins with Marina (Olga Kurylenko), a seemingly naive Parisian in a relationship with the near-silent Neil (Ben Affleck). We see them in the middle of a relationship, and Malick oddly never chooses to show the beginnings of their first or second relationships. Marina has a child, and that child is her daughter that wants to move to the US with Neil.

Tatiana, the child, is what we the audience view as the childish one in the relationship between Neil and Marina, since she is the child. Marina is our subject, and like The Tree of Life, is one subject that comes of age. Marina begins naive, free as a bird. The film depicts Marina feeling rejection, lust, anguish. All three of those, not in any order nor variety.

In an ordinary film, Neil would be the lead, as he is the one who gets into the two relationships. Alas, this is no ordinary film, but instead a film by Terrence Malick. After Marina suffers the loss of her visa due to expiration, Neil rekindles a relationship with a high-school sweetheart (Rachel McAdams). Oddly enough, we see the beginning of the fire of love, but the end is never developed. Perhaps since this relationship is viewed through the eyes of Marina, do we see her envy of Neil's life, but not the breakup, which Marina could just as easily be indifferent to.

This sweet-heart leaves the film, and never returns. Marina, as a character, is developing, and she is not looking back. At this time, Neil-ina II (that's just a new name for the relationship) are attending church, and we see a Father. Father Quintana (Javier Bardem). Father Q is having struggles with his relationship with God. We never truly see the struggle, but only through eyes on the outside do we see his sadness. Maybe that;s why one local in the film remarked " look so sad."

Emmanuel Lubezki, who lensed The Tree of Life, works with the "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" formula, and it happens to be quite effective. Every shot in the film is utterly gorgeous, and the soundtrack picked in the editing room is true music to the ears. The film can be viewed through the eyes of anyone, but the story flows very loosely. With patient ears attend, an audience member can truly be rewarded in this sumptious drama about love, and the problems love faces.

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