Share “Blu-ray review: “To the Wonder””

BAM's Blog!


Blu-ray review: “To the Wonder”

by Brandy McDonnell Published: August 23, 2013

A version of this review appears in Friday’s Weekend Life section of The Oklahoman.

“To the Wonder”

Oklahoma-bred auteur Terrence Malick offers up a gorgeously poetic but challengingly chaotic cinematic contemplation on the complexities of love and faith with “To the Wonder.”

The notoriously enigmatic Malick, 69, who is conspicuously absent from the Blu-ray’s behind-the-scenes interviews, grew up in Bartlesville and filmed “To the Wonder” in and around his hometown, Pawhuska and Tulsa, as well as in France. His visually stunning depictions of Oklahoma’s big-sky sunsets, green-gold grain fields and particularly the stately bison herds on Pawhuska’s Tallgrass Prairie Preserve are simply luminous in high definition, even outshining France’s famed Mont Saint-Michel monastery.

“You have to allow the chaos to be the chaos of life,” star Ben Affleck advises in one of the three short and rather repetitive making-of featurettes, which detail how Malick opted to forego many conventional filmmaking trappings, including a formal script, in creating his latest esoteric post-narrative drama.

The film opens at Mont Saint-Michel, the island off Normandy, France, considered “The Wonder of the Western World,” where Neil (Affleck), a reticent American tourist, is enjoying a blissful affair with Marina (Olga Kurylenko), a lively Eastern European single mother living in Paris.

Neil invites Marina and her 10-year-old daughter Tatiana (Tatiana Chiline), to move back with him to Bartlesville. She may twirl free-spiritedly across the gorgeous Oklahoma landscapes, but Marina soon discovers that the idyllic love that came so easily on holiday is much harder to maintain once it is uprooted to a subdivision in a strange land.

As their relationship disintegrates, Marina finds some solace worshipping in the spanking new Catholic church, where Father Quintana’s (Javier Bardem) faith feels old and worn down, while Neil rekindles his romance with a dazzling old flame, Jane (Rachel McAdams), a flaxen-haired rancher who has recently been widowed.

With “To the Wonder,” Malick uses a freeform story and sparse dialogue to ruminate about the complexities of preserving romantic love and religious devotion amid the life’s tedium and troubles. The three-time Oscar nominee has clearly edited away copious amounts of words and plot to leave the film a largely sensory experience, and for some film fans, his cuts will prove too drastic.

For those willing to go along with his musings and meanderings, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki’s immersive imagery and the movie’s bewitching score, which blends Tchaikovsky, Haydn and Wagner with Hanan Townshend’s original music and natural sounds of wind and water, effectively evoke deep emotions.


by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
+ show more


  1. 1
    Two adults, two children found dead in apparent murder-suicide at east Tulsa home
  2. 2
    Ben Stoller, an 11-year-old golfer from Owasso, will compete in national event this weekend at...
  3. 3
    Tulsa couple jailed after threatening, shooting at guests inside home
  4. 4
    Stillwater councilors say energy lobbyists gave ultimatum on drilling-ordinance vote
  5. 5
    ConocoPhillips estimates Bartlesville layoffs at less than 4 percent of workforce
+ show more