To The Wonder: A meditation on the things that really matter


Having been absolutely blown away by Terrance Malick’s last film The Tree of Life in 2011 and having learned that he typically takes years to make movies, I was pleasantly surprised to learn last month that he was going to be releasing a new film in April.

To The Wonder is set to be released tomorrow (April 12) and like The Tree of Life will be in limited theatrical release. Which means I’m going to either have to drive hours to see it or wait for it on Blu-Ray. According to the film’s playdate’s page it will show at Omaha’s Dundee Theater on May 3 so perhaps I will get to see it sooner rather than later.

From the movie’s website:

The anticipated new feature from renowned filmmaker Terrence Malick (Tree of Life, The New World), TO THE WONDER boldly and lyrically explores the complexities of love in all its forms. Parisian single mother Marina (Olga Kurylenko) and Midwestern tourist Neil (Ben Affleck) fall madly in love in France and relocate to Oklahoma with Marina’s young daughter to start a life together. As their relationship wanes and her visa nears expiration, Marina makes the acquaintance of a priest and fellow exile (Javier Bardem) who is struggling with his faith, while Neil renews a relationship with his childhood sweetheart, Jane (Rachel McAdams).

I’d heard that several stars, including Martin Sheen and Jessica Chastain, had acted in the film but found their roles cut out of the final edit. No matter, I cannot wait to see the final product and melt into my theater seat.

Not everyone likes his films, and indeed his detractors are many. I love the imagery over dialogue approach he uses and the lack of in-your-face non-stop action. This was the approach he took with The Tree of Life and it appears he has done the same with this film.


The final paragraph in the final film review (and thumb’s up) film critic Roger Ebert wrote before he died last week was this one:

There will be many who find “To the Wonder” elusive and too effervescent. They’ll be dissatisfied by a film that would rather evoke than supply. I understand that, and I think Terrence Malick does, too. But here he has attempted to reach more deeply than that: to reach beneath the surface, and find the soul in need.

The only movie that perhaps moved me more emotionally than The Tree of Life was Cinema Paradiso. I hate to burden a film with such lofty expectations but the trailer and my knowledge of this film tells me it just might pull that type of experience off.

If you like the visual in your cinema, and to use them as a springboard into your own meditation, I could not more highly recommend The Tree of Life as it was an expanded meditation on a passage from Job in the Old Testament: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Job 38:4,7

To The Wonder is said to be a meditation on love and the things that really matter. And what matters move than love? As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 love “is the greatest of these.”


IMDB listing for To The Wonder

Facebook page

Twelve gorgeous film stills from the movie in the London Telegraph

My review of The Tree of Life


2 thoughts on “To The Wonder: A meditation on the things that really matter

  1. Thank you for the heads up. I hadn’t heard of this movie, or the Tree of Life. I’ve been out of the movie loop on all fronts for several years. Some movies, however, are worth watching.


    • You’re welcome Jess! While I missed seeing The Tree of Life on the big screen I watched it at home when it came out on Blu-Ray. The very first words across the black screen are “This movie was meant to be watched with the volume turned up” (or words along that line). And it’s good advice. Much of the dialogue is in fact whispered thoughts by the characters and if you miss them it detracts from the movie. Visually it’s one of the most stunning things I’ve seen on the screen. My two cents anyhow. Thanks for stopping by!


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