To the Wonder

To the Wonder ★★★★½

"What is this love that loves us?"

Admittedly, this is a very silly line from Terrence Malick's new film To The Wonder, and while I feel this might be his weakest film and quite messy, it ultimately works to its advantage. The line itself, silly as it may be, is genuine, and in this film's most genuine moments, it is something special.

It's a spiritual sequel to both The Tree of Life in style, and Days of Heaven (and to a lesser extent, Badlands) in content. To the Wonder is quite simply a film about love, and like the style of fragmented memories seen in Tree of Life we observe the different types and stages of love.

The credits list these actors as people with names, but they're not really characters so much as they are manifestations of different loves. Olga Kurylenko is Passion. Rachel McAdams is Tenderness. Ben Affleck is the Undecided/Noncommittal. Javier Bardem is Unrequited love. Through their interactions, Malick observes how these various manifestations travel through life, and where they try to find a sense of not just happiness, but peace.

In its most genuine moments, this film attacked my emotions with the sound and fury I could only see in great movies, which is the kind of thing I felt Tree of Life lacked. Yet this film stalls in other moments. There's a lot to digest here, but I was disappointed at the inconsistency.

To The Wonder might be great, but it's missing a bit of a push that can make it transcend to the level it wants to be at, but when it does shine, it shines brightly. I might have left the theater feeling a bit unfulfilled, but I suppose Love itself is very unfulfilled.

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