Terrence Malick's movies are very mysterious to me. They aren't bad. Maybe they are too complicated for my brain to process, or something. When The Tree of Life came out two years ago, I saw it twice. The first time I watched it not knowing what to expect. I had heard that it was really abstract and artistic (I also heard there were dinosaurs -- cue that inspirational Jurassic Park music!). The second time I watched Life, I saw it during AMC's annual Best Picture Showcase, and that audience became really hostile really quickly. The majority of the people at the BPS just want to be told what's good (they can't be bothered in forming their own opinion), and I thought there was going to be a riot.
This almost happend, I assure you.
I had heard that Malick's new film, To the Wonder, was receiving mixed notices. He usually takes years between projects, so I thought it was strange that he already had a new film out. I gave it a try. I really did. I don't mean to sell myself short, but maybe I am just not smart enough for his movies? Wonder has a very romantic feel to it, but ultimately is too somber for me. Pretty people standing in pretty places not talking. Here's a recap of the movie (my initial reaction to the film the day after I saw it):
Olga Kurylenko (from Oblivion, we now know my opinion of her) is the lead, and she and Ben Affleck leave France to live in America. Voiceover. She speaks French. She whispers. He barely talks. And she whispers. She twirls in fields. Her and her daughter LOVE America. "Everything is so clean!" they exclaim. Where the eff are they living? Olga and her daughter twirl and dance. She feels the flowers. And the trees. Ben walks around in mud for work. Fracking? Olga and Ben wrestle playfully. Whispering. Her visa expires. Her daughter now hates America (way to build an arc there, Malick). Olga leaves.
Regina George the Time Traveler's Wife Rachel McAdams. She wears a lot of denim. I mean, a LOT of denim. I forgot denim could be worn so many ways. She also shows us every single way her hair can be styled. There's wind. And whispering. And more wind. And wheat fields. SO. MANY. WHEAT. FIELDS. Seriously, where the eff are they?!
More whispering. Rachel wants to be Ben's wife. Eeeeekk! Not the W-word! Doomed. Whispering. Wheat. They fight. No one knows. Rachel leaves, surely taking the world's largest denim collection with her. I miss her already.
Javier Barden is a priest. Sure, why not. He seems to only walk around in neighborhoods with creepy, drug-addled people. Are we sure he's a priest? "Excuse me, Mr. Bardem, can I have my robes back. You're not really a priest."
Olga comes back. She hated Europe. Olga twirls. And smiles. And dances. And prances around. Another French girl shows up. She tells Olga she isn't free. Rude. Olga frowns. Olga walks along the highway. Lots of Pizza Huts. Frenchie Number 2 throws Olga's purse in a bush and tells her to leave it. Tells her to be free. I want pizza now. Frenchie Number 2 disappears. Olga twirls. Like, seriously, a deep-dish, extra cheese pizza. More highway. Olga meets a meth head. I assume he's a meth head, because I have never met an admitted meth head. That I know of. Meth and Olga go to a hotel. Um, ok. No more twirling for Olga because she is going to the nearest Econo Lodge to bang someone who surely smells like gas station nacho cheese run off. They do it. Olga is sad. Olga tells Ben. Ben is angry. Ben smashes his passenger side mirror (State Farm is there!) and leaves Olga on the side of the road. Olga STILL doesn't have her purse. Ben forgives her. Still no dialogue from Mr. Affleck. Fracking? Deep-dish pizza?
Pretty music. Shot of a church.