To the Wonder plays like a Saturday Night Live skit of a Terrence Malick film, with, you guessed it, endless shots of Olga Kurylenko spinning in wheat fields, bedrooms and streets, as wall-to-wall whispered voice-over asks those same existential questions, ad-fucking-nauseam. It is absolutely, undeniably everything Malick-haters accused Tree of Life of being. It is unbearably pretentious, sleep-inducingly boring, and actually makes me afraid to revisit all the other films of his I loved, in case they remind me of this one. Yes, it’s that heart-breakingly bad.
I can only hope Malick decided to clean the worst tendencies out of his system once and for all in a defiant act of indulgent cinematic masturbation, and that his next movie will have an actual story and characters speaking audible dialogue to each other. But if I hear one more whispered voice-over or a woman starts to spin, I’m officially setting fire to my Terrence Malick DVDs.
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I receive pages every morning, sometimes ten, sometimes more. They’re not exactly a script—whether one exists or not is a complete mystery—but the words are (excuse my poeticism) rather like a breakfast for the soul. And every morning it’s a feast! If I digest the sense of what the pages contain, the nature of Terry’s words will shine through my eyes while we’re filming, and I won’t even need to speak. Every sentence is filled with such deep knowledge of the soul.
They force me to think and reflect on my own life, to ask myself questions. Reading Terry’s words makes me realize I’m spending so much precious time on such unnecessary things. (“Why do we often look the wrong way?”) Wonderful pages. I’d like to cover my walls with them. Instead, I’m instructed to burn them.
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From the sweeping plains of Oklahoma to the neon-lit Sonic drive-thru, Malick’s latest meditation on the pain of love will now be open to a wider audience. It’s a shame for those who don’t have an enormous television and high-quality sound system, but imagine the joy of knowing you can still take part in viewing something amazing somewhere in which you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to—watching this on your home television is certainly better than not viewing it at all.
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