Rumours of Wonder

September 4, 2012

Terrence Malick’s new film, To the Wonder, had its premiere this past weekend at the Venice Film Festival, and a few early reviews have started to appear. Predictably, the film “divided” the audience — I wouldn’t expect anything else. The Telegraph called it “a film of tender, often rapturous beauty”. Alex Ross says that the film makes prominent use of the orchestral Prelude to Parsifal in a sequence shot at Mont St.-Michel, which seems another way of saying the same thing (and which, incidentally, makes my eyes roll back into my head). Malick’s films — his three most recent, in any case — have captured my heart in the past couple of years, and I am eager to see To the Wonder when I have a chance.

It might be a while yet, as the film apparently has no distributor. In the meantime I’ve been doing a bit of reading about it, while trying to avoid learning too much about the story. As was the case for The Thin Red Line, Malick’s final version apparently cuts the performances of several A-list actors, including Jessica Chastain (!) and Rachel Weisz; it explores parallels between carnal and spiritual love (which was also an implicit theme of The New World); it pursues the non-narrative, discontinuous, whispered-voiceover style of The Tree of Life to an even greater extent. No doubt it’s a “difficult” film, but I must say it sounds pretty terrific to me.

The kicker is that it will be showing here in Toronto next week at the film festival, but I won’t be able to see it then.

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