When your previous film is ‘The Tree of Life’, well, it must not be easy. Not easy. I very much doubt that Terrence Malick, as flamboyant and aloof as he may be, as far away from the crowds, award ceremonies and parties thrown to hobnob with Hollywood stars, was oblivious to the barrage of comments, praise, criticism, insults, controversies and applause that achieved that masterpiece. With all that this entails, the filmmaker repeated the formal concept in his next project, ‘To the Wonder’, although In conceptual terms, I decided to focus exclusively on three themes: love, heartbreak and religion. With capital letters.
Thus, ‘To the Wonder’, sold at the time as little less than the most absolute cinematic horror, hides authentic finds of pure genius: a red rose in the snow, surviving, crestfallen but strong, a dance full of metaphors and beauty through a supermarket, a sea on which lovers can walk, devoid of any fear, a tiny light in the dark solitude of a forest, the desert that a subway full of people can turn into, how beautiful and how sad a city like Paris can be when the gaze is influenced by one feeling or another.
Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko and Rachel McAdams, the least accomplished character in the love triangle, swarm like ghosts through a world full of lights and shadows, large spaces and mundane prisons, caresses and screams. Javier Bardem, playing a parish priest with faith problems, ends up closing the circle, giving meaning to his character and to the whole of the film, in a superb ending, at the level of the best Malick, full of ashes and melancholy. Echoes of the past, real pain and empty airports. And her sad beauty.