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April 10, 2013

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Scott Nye

I'm with you on Affleck's evasiveness, but the more I reflect on it, the more I think he really is the lead in the film, in spite of Kurylenko being leant more screen time and, in a certain sense, perspective. What I mean is that, Bardem aside, the movie only follows the characters that are orbiting Affleck's life at present. Once Kurylenko's gone, she's gone (until she's back, or hinting at returning), and the same goes for McAdams, and perhaps Malick needed someone of Affleck's star power to sufficiently anchor the film in such a way. Anyway, given that this is said to have very close ties to Malick's own life, I can't help but wonder if the film is he (as Affleck, sort of) reflecting on how the women in his life must have felt when they were with him, but, I know, such speculation can be a dangerous road to venture.

I really loved the film, but even more so than The Tree of Life, it's a difficult one to parse through; even having written a piece on it, I'm far from having a definite grasp on the thing.

Joel Gordon

Here's one viewer's attempt to parse this beautiful thing:

I think a lot of the film's ideas about love and God are in Bardem's line, "We were made to see You." The film literally opens on a lover's POV (via a video camera), and then lingers over shots of lovers discovering and re-discovering each other through sight and touch, in the same way that the camera lingers over shots of aliens discovering unfamiliar landscapes (like in the English scenes at the end of The New World). I also think that To the Wonder is a treatise on the inability to re-capture a transcendental "unity"-whether it's Bardem's diminished sense of Grace, Affleck failing to re-kindle with his childhood sweetheart, or the painful way that McAdams and Kurylenko yearn for their lost daughters. And it's also about how this inability can lead, as Bardem's character says, to a "higher" unity. The movie certainly features the most heartbreaking use of Skype that I think I'll ever see in a movie. Those breaks in sound and pictures, the stuttering connectivity, the sense of distance between two people who can nonetheless see each other--Malick finds thematic resonance in the most unexpected places.

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