Wonderstruck ★★★★

If you told me that Todd Haynes' next move after Carol was going to be a kids' movie, I would have had a hard time believing you. But here we are. In Wonderstruck we have a specifically Haynesian kids' movie. Like Carol, Haynes largely films this film indoors and with an attention to the frame, shadows, and lighting of each scene. Save for when the kids are running around a street or a museum, there's hardly much motion on screen. This is a kids movie, yes, but it is meant for the patient, still, silent types.

This film -- about friendship, memories, New York, escape, the loss of hearing and sight, and the loss of other sensory feeling when you lose a loved one -- unfolds like a literary novel you might read from an author like Jonathan Safran Foer. It explores the inner worlds of its characters for dramatic tension and growth. It asks its viewers not to rely on plotting and action but for the emotional journeys of its protagonists and supporting cast as the core of what the film is about. For a film to do this without much dialog in its 2nd act, with intersecting stories 40 years apart, and with only about 3 or 4 main characters on screen, is an accomplishment.

I did find the film to be slightly overlong, which maybe could be addressed by tightening up each vignette back and forth between the 1960s and the 1920s. This is hardly a complaint, though, as Haynes presumably was trying to stay true to the source material.