What to Drink While Watching “To The Wonder”

wonder 1

Heen writes :

Just a couple of years ago, Terrence Malick wowed the world with The Tree of Life, reviewed lovingly here. It turns out that this Tree is but one leg on a two-legged stool, the other being his latest offering, To The Wonder, which I had the pleasure of seeing a few days ago.

Just as The Tree… is a paeon to life, so To The Wonder is a celebration of love. The films have a lot in common – they are loooong and swooshy, with sweeping shots of massive countryside and enormous skies that make us gasp at Nature with a capital N, that is, God’s creation as laid down to us mere mortals, chopped up images and scenes juxtaposed with the intimate minimalism of human relations, all smothered in a gushy rich soundtrack and an overall sticky gorgeousness that hardly lets us breathe.

Ben Affleck alternately loves Olga Kurylenko and Rachel McAdams. Who wouldn’t, given half a chance. Both are pure passion and sensuality, but Jane (as played by Rachel) has her head more screwed on than Marina (Olga) who comes across as seriously unbalanced and petulant, even more childish than her little daughter who is practically the most straightforward character in the movie. Both Olga and Rachel warm to cool Ben, who is some sort of oil technician but what the hell – his job is just a distraction after all.

The Tree of Life is about, and set on, the planet Earth. To The Wonder is limited to Paris, Mont St. Michel and Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Whereas The Tree… features dinosaurs, To The Wonder has got bison, as some sort of Universal Creature Sponsorship (UCS). It’s a while since I saw bison in a film – I associate them with Cherokees and James Stewart; who would have thought there was room for them in erotica…?

Ben just can’t get his act together. Personally, I put this down to his stormy times with J. Lo, but don’t mind me.

Javier Bardem plays the part of a priest who’s lost the plot but who goes through the motions and keeps his worries in the background – the soundtrack is punctuated with his torment, as he carries out his pastoral duties, on his way to becoming San Manuel Bueno. He also has a lot to say about this crazy little thing called love, which is more like a healthy blast in the case of Rachel and a morose madness for Olga.

This isn’t a film for impatient people. Don’t go looking for plots when there aren’t any, as the bishop said to the actress. The cinematography is the most sumptuous you are ever going to see, and if you are prepared to let the whole thing wash over you, sink into you and drag you under, you will find it worthwhile.

What to drink while being battered by the love? For the scenes with Rachel McAdams, I’d say a nice crisp white wine with a light fruity tang such as that of a melon that isn’t quite ripe yet. I’m thinking of a verdejo from the Rueda area of Spain, obviously. Olga Kurylenko calls for a sweeter, deeper, more reckless wine, such as a Tokaji from Hungary, something like a Hárslevelű, for example.


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