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February 2013

Lux Exterior

To the Wonder (2013)

Mary Cybulski/Studiocanal

Robert Delaunay described painting as being "by nature a luminous language," and "To the Wonder" continues Terrence Malick's earnest progress toward a similarly lustrous alphabet with which to communicate with a filmgoing audience. The film takes the approach tried in "The Tree of Life" and shifts to the next logical notch, leaving vocal narrative even further behind in the rearview mirror and dealing instead in poetic epigrams delivered as whispered voice-over, and magic-hour sunbeams dappling shores and fields and wildlife; all as a means to tell an ostensibly conventional real-world drama of romantic strife. Whether this actually accords with the nature of the medium in question or goes against the grain is a divisive question. Your answer will probably determine if the response to the film is to be rapture or rampage, or both.

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