Wonderstruck Screen 82 of 24 reviews

Wonderstruck

2017

Wonderstruck Poster
  • It may be Haynes's saddest feature to date. In Wonderstruck, wonderment serves as a coping mechanism for personal tragedies. Haynes and Selznick visualize this idea in their depiction of the natural history museum—filled with artifacts from all over the planet, the museum is a place to get lost in. It's rather like the structure of Wonderstruck itself, rife with information and winding passages and speaking to a sense of curiosity most of us experience as children.

  • Haynes, mostly recognized as a leader in queer filmmaking, is reminding us here that his more specific interest is in outsiders—and in cinema’s ability to chip away at their lived experiences through subtle experiments in form. His filmmaking is as intellectual as it is emotional: He makes you feel the power of objects, glances, touches, and the rest. Movies are above all experiences. Every good director knows that, but Wonderstruck is a movie by the rare filmmaker gifted enough to show it.

  • The movie strikes a curious emotional tone, alternating between suspense and quiet wistfulness, with sudden surges of operatic intensity as the two timelines begin to connect. Still, all the moods hang together like the movements of a piece of classical music expressing different tempos: allegro, adagio, andante. This may be the most music-driven of Haynes’ films yet.

  • Even as he follows Mr. Selznick’s narrative lead, Mr. Haynes quietly and touchingly makes “Wonderstruck” his own because the wonder of the film isn’t in its story but in its telling. It’s in the expressive beauty of his images, the expansiveness of his ideas and the way he naturally, generously brings a once-upon-a-time girl and boy to life, allowing them to find themselves — in their willfulness, their heartbreaks and their imaginings — so that eventually they can find someone else.

  • This is an intricate, high-reaching piece of film-making, and there are places where the mechanics don't run as smoothly as they should. But the film's beauty runs so deep, it doesn't matter. Wonderstruck embraces so many shimmery, evanescent ideas, it's a marvel that any picture--let alone one you can take your kids to--can hold them.

  • There is so much packed in here; Wonderstruck is simultaneously the densest and loosest film Haynes has made. And, like many stories based on books for children, much of it makes more emotional than logical sense. I was wowed by pretty much all of it, but the moment that most resonates — the one that seems to embody the whole movie — comes early on, as Rose stands on a boat headed for Manhattan, holding a newspaper clipping about the actress she’s searching for.

  • Rose’s story would be unbearably sad, and the journey that brings her to Ben might seem like too much to endure, except that new relationships have been formed along the way, new connections made. One story ends and another begins; the world keeps changing. Still, as Haynes’s protagonists look at the stars in the film’s concluding shot, they have finally found, for this moment, a place to belong.

  • Though Haynes’s analytical distance keeps it from getting mired in sentimentality, Wonderstruck does grow increasingly emotional. It is never more affecting than when subtly rendering the moments of awe that Ben and Rose unwittingly share across half a century while traversing the same museum exhibits: a monster-sized mosquito, an imposing meteorite sent to earth in 1902, a blue whale suspended in the air, all forever frozen in time.

  • Every detail in this magical and emotionally potent (not to mention texturally bewitching, thanks to DP Ed Lachman and production designer Mark Friedberg) film appears to have been patiently summoned from Selznick’s and Haynes’s remembered pasts. Wonderstruck is a richly rewarding experience, and its culminating scene, featuring one of Julianne Moore’s finest moments, packs quite an emotional wallop.

  • Not even Taxi Driver captured the crumbling textures of the city as it struggled to survive as expressively as Wonderstruck, a film that earns its title by evoking the power of cinema as a time machine and as the language in which the history of the last century was written.

  • Yoking together two New York stories separated by half a century, Wonderstruck, Todd Haynes’s characteristically personal and lovingly detailed take on a children’s movie, beautifully inhabits a skewed kid’s-eye perspective (which should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his early short Dottie Gets Spanked). It’s also one of Haynes’s most exuberant demonstrations of his core belief that blatant artifice can engender overwhelming emotion.

  • The weave so impressive, it feels almost quibblesome to note that it doesn’t always hold together... At times, “Wonderstruck” feels less like storytelling than scaffolding; there’s a bit more on-the-surface busyness than its simple, touching tale can fully support. But even that flaw bespeaks an uncommon level of ambition. This big-hearted movie reaches for the stars, and it’s more than OK that its reach exceeds its grasp.

  • Although the emotions within the story sometimes feel overly direct and obvious, Haynes’ deep love for each frame is palpable at every turn. If it’s possible to want to weep at the sight of period specific bus station vending machines, then this is the film to make that happen. All the ingredients are there, but there’s something that just doesn’t quite bind the mix together.

  • Todd Haynes’ peerless world-building skills are exploited to their full extent with this beguiling semi-silent film... Haynes might initially seem an ungainly fit for a pair of parallel stories about deaf children, potentially aimed at a family audience. But as an innovative filmmaker who naturally chimes with the perspective of the outsider looking in, Haynes takes a semi-graphic novel which comes with a strong visual identity, and makes it very much his own.

  • Its rhymes across a half-century will probably find more resonance among chest-thumping cinephiles than an actual ticket-buying public, which is a shame, as the film is already a rare artifact for trying something new and daring, as earnest as it is unfashionable.

  • Todd Haynes’s super-formalist new drama takes place in the ’20s and ’70s, with costume designer Sandy Powell dazzling in her dressing up of hundreds of extras (an executive producer credit is very well-earned). It’s fascinating to look at and more than an exercise.

  • Haynes’s commitment to risky ideas... pay off and keep the film from falling victim to its own template. This is a decidedly schematic movie, but I found myself unable to gauge what it was becoming, or what sort of affective terrain it was moving into, at any given moment, and this is true right up to the end — which is loaded with schmaltz but, I admit it, kinda got to me.

  • This is Haynes bringing his full, vibrant panoply of techniques to a story that, in appealing to younger readers, has fewer revelations to offer the adults in the audience. We largely have to make do with the film’s quasi-Spielbergian evocation of childhood excitement, the dazzling craft, and the skill with which Haynes winds the two halves of the film inexorably toward each other.

  • It gives me zero satisfaction to say Haynes made his worst film, and despite his background in transgressive cinema, he's perfectly suited to a kids movie about juggled timelines, emotionally resonant artifacts, and children feeling their way towards an identity. But after a wonderful first act, it loses its way, bogged down in the slow, suspense-free linear quests that can befall kids book adaptations.

  • The film, in its substance and in its intercut construction, exists for one purpose: to show how the two sets of characters from the two time frames fit together. The entire movie is disparate, its two tracks of action merely parallel... until the connections, near the end, are laid bare. That’s why, for the most part, “Wonderstruck” is tedious: it’s less a drama than a puzzle that exists to deliver its completed picture, a column of figures meant solely to add up to a predetermined sum.

  • Haynes is particularly keen on vaunting the need for children to develop curiosity, but Wonderstruck goes about it so sentimentally and pedantically, telling us all the time how wonderful each diorama or document or object is, that you feel hectored long before the end.

  • The juggle of ideas and echoes, of epistolary conversations, dreams and city plans, cinemas’s (and books’, museums’ and New York’s) sights, sounds and peoples—they are lushly imagined, yet dryly applied. This distance is in some degree intended so that we may be observant and constructively critical of the melodrama’s curated bricolage. Yet if Wonderstruck is a museum, it is one of virtuosic unevenness, keeping us at arm's reach from its exhibitions, many of which are questionably assembled.

  • Loveliness is plentiful across the fabric of this two-hour film... All this ratchets up expectations for the ending to deliver answers that deepen the narrative. Sadly, despite Julianne Moore’s ability to make small actions – such pulling out a notepad and writing “Ben?” – oceanically moving, there are few surprises in this film’s disappointingly saccharine climax.

  • There are shades of The Artist here, and it's hard to imagine why those who took umbrage with the way that film paid homage to the silent era—by exercising a disinterest for its aesthetics and cheaply riffing on period whimsy—are giving Haynes a pass for a similar result here. Wonderstruck was shot by Carol cinematographer Edward Lachman, who captures Rose's misadventures with the generally stately elegance he brought to Haynes's 2015 film—and with the same entirely modern grammar.

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