As he approaches his 70th birthday, Terrence Malick has picked up the pace, taking only a year or so since the Cannes-winning The Tree of Life to deliver his latest achingly beautiful drama of the body and the spirit. The result is even more experimental than its predecessor, and Malick thankfully goes easy on would-be cosmic bombast as he outlines the Atlantic-hopping romance between French single mother Olga Kurylenko and her American suitor Ben Affleck.
‘The Wonder’ is actually a local name for Normandy’s fairytale tourist site Mont St-Michel, where the couple achieve a blissful moment of togetherness that proves difficult to recreate. Their travails are contextualised by priest Javier Bardem’s troubling loss of faith, but overall the film offers only the barest tracery of narrative, cutting away from dialogue-led plotting to focus on the mood of the passing moment. Gorgeous cinematography and stirring musical selections interact with light and movement in this passionate evocation of life and love – just don’t expect anything remotely conventional. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)