Terrence Malik has a reputation amongst actors for paying almost more attention to the landscape around them than to their own performances, and his keen eye for the beauty of nature is certainly apparent in To The Wonder. The film is stunningly shot, showing the splendour in even the most mundane suburban and industrial landscapes. However in places the film does begin to take on the quality of a particularly beautiful perfume advert, as the camera follows the actors dancing across fields to softly spoken voice overs addressing the nature of their love.
The story follows an American who, whilst on a trip to France, falls in love with a European woman and brings her and her daughter back to the US where the relationship begins to strain. Ben Affleck’s quiet and steady presence contrasts well with the sensual and lithe energy of Olga Kurylenko as his lover, and the performance of her young daughter stands out as Malik manages to capture her youthful exuberance with a rare sense of honesty. Javier Bardem’s role as the priest searching for reaffirmation of his faith helps give the story definition, although the intertwining storylines occasionally felt overly subtle. Nonetheless To The Wonder is a beautiful and thought-provoking study on the possibilities and fragilities of love.