To the Wonder ★★

To The Wonder is at times incredibly boring and incredibly brilliant; unfortunately the former outweighs the latter and it's difficult to wade through endless scenes of waif-like Olga Kurylenko dancing around the living room draped in curtains while contemplating the importance of love versus the convenience of a green card.

Terrence Malick has found a partner in cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who also shot The Tree of Life and The New World with similar sensibilities. The film looks as beautiful as anything Malick has done before. It's a pity that what worked so well for those two films, then, has not worked for this one.

In terms of subject matter - what is love, essentially - this is Malick's least ambitious project since Days of Heaven almost forty years ago. Dialogue is scarce (the majority of it in French via Kurylenko's voice-over) and action even scarcer. Most of the film comprises shots of Affleck and Kurylenko walking around France and, later, Oklahoma; alternately redecorating and then destroying their new, fabricated home; looking sideways at one another during moments of tension before walking away in various montages more akin to a doomed teenage romance than a meaningful adult relationship; and Javier Bardem's Catholic priest questioning his faith.

If that line seems like I'm considering Bardem a throwaway character, well, then that's the way it should be read. He spends all of 15 minutes on screen and does very little; his sequences intersect with Affleck and Kurylenko momentarily and meaninglessly, and we're left wondering what the point of any of it was.

Which ultimately is how I'm left feeling about the film as a whole. Do I care about the struggles of this couple? No. Do I care about Bardem's crisis of faith? No. Is the acting at all captivating or memorable? Eh. Is the film well-made? Yes, as always with Malick. Is it beautiful? Visually, without a doubt. Even the least of Malick's films has that.

Fleetingly, the film captures moments that, had you been involved, would be remembered for the rest of your life. It flirts with making an emotional connection with its audience and for some I'm sure it does. But in the end I'm left with an emptiness, like I've just watched two lives that I don't particularly care for pass by in some kind of visual symphony.