That Terrence Malick makes handsome films overflowing with poetic imagery and cinematography, is one thing that everyone agrees on; it's the content that divides cinephiles. Reactions to Malick projects like The Thin Red Line, The New World and Tree of Life illustrate that divide, as does festival buzz for his next picture, To the Wonder.
To the Wonder is the sixth feature-length film written and directed by Malick over the past four decades; that it's arriving two years after Tree of Life is astonishing, given the auteur's tendencies. No surprise, it features a small cast of familiar faces and acting heavyweights, which includes Ben Affleck (Argo), Rachel McAdams (The Vow), Olga Kurylenko (Magic City) and Oscar-winner Javier Bardem (Skyfall).
Malick's new film (unlike Tree of Life) is a relatively straight-forward and linear tale about a man and woman from opposite sides of the pond (Affleck and Kurylenko) who meet in France and move to Oklahoma, to start a life together. There, Affleck reconnects with his childhood sweetheart (McAdams) and Kurylenko bonds with a fellow immigrant (Bardem): a priest who "is struggling with his vocation." Needless to say, complications arise as a result.
To the Wonder boasts expressive camerawork and composition, as illustrated by the newly-unveiled international trailer. However, here the characters feels almost secondary to the expansive landscape shots, painterly sunlight visuals and dancing camera. That's not simply due to how the trailer is edited (apparently).
According to some (negative) reviews from journalists and critics who've caught Malick's film on the festival circuit (via Rotten Tomatoes), To the Wonder almost feels more like a nature documentary - with a story about the complications of the human heart going on in the background. Others are far more taken with Malick's approach; however, they too admit the narrative unfolds in a minimalistic fashion, where dramatic plot developments can hinge around a single line of dialogue.
In other words: those who aren't fans of Malick's past creations, there's not much reason to expect To the Wonder to change your mind. Nonetheless, this seems like a title hard-core moviegoers might want to keep an eye out for, if only so they can see it and join the ongoing discussion about the director's oeuvre.
IMDb lists To the Wonder for a U.S. theatrical release on April 12th, 2013, but that date is reported to be no longer accurate. We will let you know when a new date has been settled on.
Source: The Film Stage