Monday, April 15, 2013

To the Wonder

Is there a clearer case of The Emperor's New Clothes than Terrence Malick? At his flatulent "The Tree of Life," there was a longer line for refunds than for popcorn. His new insta-bomb, with the poorly chosen title "To the Wonder," plays like a cross between a commercial for Obsession and the Ralph Lauren fall catalogue.

There are approximately two hundred and thirty-seven shots of women spinning around in flower fields (the sensation the film most induces is perhaps dizziness). Despite some of Malick's usual pretty pictures, there's no way into the love story between Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko, which is all swooning and opaque, high-toned French voice-over from the get-go. If Malick wants to be taken seriously again - heck, if he wants a critical mass of people actually to attend another of his films - he'll have to find a way to overcome his fetishes and construct a coherent narrative that can hold an audience's interest. There were a few walkouts at my showing; the rest of us felt like we'd earned a merit badge.

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