Less than three years after “Tree of Life” and his Palme D’Or win at Cannes, Terrence Malick is back with “To the Wonder,” a film-as-poem whose secret only he knows, apparently. At some point during the time lapsed Malick’s creativity and inspiration went out the window.
In fact, with this vaguely sensory, visual fog of a film, Malick, convinced of his own genius and assured of making a new masterpiece, has completely forgotten to tell a story. Everything in “To the Wonder” is an excuse for lyrical overtures ripe with clichés. Too much style kills style and it is precisely because of his own inimitable vision that Malick ends up hurting his movie.
Not much to say as far as the acting performances. Smothered by Malick’s stylistic deluge actors look insipid and ghostly and haunt the screen without bringing a touch of emotion to the proceedings. Some of the characters are in fact so underdeveloped that you altogether forget about them during the course of the film.
What can one say about the film’s unwieldy discourse on religion which completely weighs down the entire project? Under the pretext of addressing one of the protagonists’ loss of faith, Malick pummels the viewer with a silly and dubious treatise about God and his absence, which makes the film frankly disturbing.
God is both everywhere and nowhere, “Wonder” seems to tell us, and the evidence of his existence should not be in question. Attempting to develop further on this Malick allowed himself to delve into many things, from showing American poverty to giving a voice to the marginalized in a bid to regain some credibility. A real disappointment of a movie (translated from the French by Ali Naderzad).