Saturday, April 20, 2013

To the Wonder

A contractor (Ben Affleck) returns to his Midwest home with his childish, Parisian girlfriend (Olga Kurylenko) and her young daughter, where they prance in fields of gold with the wind bristling through their hair alternating with venomous, volatile fights. Meanwhile, a local parish priest (Javier Bardem) wrestles with his own place in the universe as he offers council to the poor and incarcerated. Terrence Malick returns to directing after only a two year respite, a relatively short break for a man who's only released six films now in forty years. Following the wildly erratic critical reception of "The Tree of Life", which ranged from the highest critical lauding and festival awards to cries of derision from many audience members. "To The Wonder" appears in theaters quite some time after its festival debut, seems to be falling on the lower end of both critical and audience approval. Personally, I didn't think it was anymore obtuse than any of his other heralded movies ("Day of Heaven", "Badlands") and furthermore I feel like you know what you are getting into when you see a Malick movie, and his movies are, in some sense, above criticism. It would be the equivalent of walking out of a P.T. Anderson film and complaining about the constantly moving camera or griping about the nervous guy in a Woody Allen picture. With "To the Wonder", I got everything I signed on for: the picaresque imagery,  the reflective, plotless narrative, and yes even the tedium.