“Pourqoi pas Toujours?” Is the question on the mind of Terrence Malick in his latest emotive cinematic meditation. The french phrase which translates to “Why not always?” could have easily been an alternate title for the film. Here the elusive auteur is less overtly concerned with the connections between the personal and the infinite (as he was in Tree of Life.) Yet one could consider To The Wonder a companion film, if only because it is shot and constructed in nearly the same manner – there may even be a shot or two from the previous film used here. Gone, however, is the consideration of fathers & sons and the complex divide between them, or notions of boys coming of age. Here the film suggest that each *age* in a persons life, each chapter, however, where ever, you wish to draw the dividing lines is worthy of no regrets (as Ms. Piaf might sing.) Remaining is the invitation to cherish those discrete packages of time that inevitably, come to an end. Now like all Malick films, you can either find that a trite subject to make a film, but equally like all of the directors work, he is unabashedly earnest about it.
He is perhaps telling us to simply enjoy the miracle that is life, even when it treats you badly. This is examined in relationships both past and present, family, faith and even the current environmental state of the planet. At one point, I even felt that there was some Antonioni geography-is-a-reflection-of-state-of-mind being channeled in the divide between urban Paris and the midwest american suburbs. What the director has kept is the earthy and ethereal treatment of redheads, here former 007 beauty Olga Kurylenko, who like Jessica Chastain before her, gets the chance to both soar and suffer (the shadowy yin to the free-spirited yang) over the course of the films run-time. Many have noted the directors particular fascination with women twirling in summer dresses. Like much of the director’s post-Days of Heaven work, what you will get out of the film depends on whatever you bring into it. To The Wonder will either evoke certain feelings or tweak them in one direction or another.
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