02 May 2013

Film going: To the Wonder

Last night I saw the film To the Wonder.

I am still in awe.

This film follows the love and lives of an American man, Niel, and a French woman, Marina, who meet in France and move together to a small town in Oklahoma. We catch glimpses of their lives as their love waxes and wanes through time. The film weaves through the changes they face as a couple and as individuals. Beautiful moments and troubled times. Discontent and sublime happiness. Confidence and doubt. Tied into the tale are a love story between Niel and his childhood sweetheart, Jane, and the quiet struggles of a Spanish ex-patriot priest, Father Quintanna serving his parish in this small Oklahoma town. In much the way our characters seek to find, keep and understand their love, Quintana is reaching out for faith and for Christ, whom he has seemingly lost among the all too real lives of his congregants and the seeming lack of divinity around him. Though the characters overlap and their lives intersect, the stories remain separate and individual. Each unique.

The film is raw. Emotional. Narrated, vaguely, in turn by the various characters as they move through the phases in their lives and loves. As they struggle and question and seek and yearn for that which they cannot find or cannot hold on to.

It is also beautiful. Not just emotionally, but visually as well. The scenes are simple, yet at times take on an almost fairy-tale-like quality. Whimsical and flowing. The lighting and angles are gorgeous. Stark. Brilliant. Elegant. Dreamy. It is we, the audience, are half in a dream. In fact, the entirety of the film might be described as dreamlike. Hazy. The fragments one remembers after waking up. Unfinished and even, in parts, incoherent. Yet the moments are still surprisingly potent; the emotions inexplicably strong.

I recommend it highly...but know that this will be dreamy, emotional, abstract.. and the narrative sparse and elusive. I like that I guess. It was powerful enough to make me weep. So who knows, maybe you will love it too.