Based on the New York Times bestseller, WONDER tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time.
Such was the impact of Millicent Simmonds' performance in the film when it premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, she was personally congratulated by her idol Will Smith after the screening where her debut was hailed as a "breakthrough". See more »
"Wonderstruck" (2017 release; 116 min.) brings the story of two kids, Ben and Rose, set 50 years apart, in 1977 and 1927, respectively. As the movie opens, we are told it's "Gunflint, Minnesota, 1977", and we see Ben grieving for his mom, the own librarian who recently dies in a car crash. One evening while trying to make a phone call, Ben is struck by lightning and becomes deaf. In a parallel story, we are told it's "Hoboken, New Jersey, 1927" and get to know Rose, a deaf girl whose mother is a famous actress. Going back to Ben, in a flashback we see him interacting with his mom, who refuses to give him any clues as to the identity of his dad. At this point we are a good 10 min. into the movie. How are Ben and Rose connected? What will become of them? To tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from director Todd Haynes, whose previous film "Carol" was in my top 3 of the year. Here he brings Brian Selznick's best-selling novel to the big screen. I haven't read the book so I cannot comment how significantly the narrative differs from the book (if at all). The movie is remarkable on a number of levels: the 1927 scenes are in B&W and play out as a silent movie (more on that later). I am not spoiling anything when I mention that museums play a key role, if not character in this movie. One evening, Ben and his new friend Jamie are hiding in a secret room at the American Museum of Natural History, and you can't help but think back to "A Night at the Museum", only that this is one of a very different kind (and for much the better in my book). The Queens Museum also provides a vital platform. Julianna Moore is the only "big" name in the cast, and she doesn't even show up until 3/4 into the movie. Oakes Fegley, the boy playing Ben, carries the movies on his young shoulders, and quite capably at that. Last but certainly not least, there is a fabulous amount of music in the movie, primarily the original score (which runs quasi non-stop throughout the movie), courtesy of composer Carter Burwell. You can bet on it that I will seek this out.
"Wonderstruck" premiered at this year's Cannes Film Festival to immediate critical acclaim, and I've been waiting to see this ever since. The movie finally opened at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The Saturday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended so-so (maybe 12-13 people in total). Regardless, if you are in the mood for "A Night At the Museum" of a very different kind, I'd readily suggest you check this out, be it in the theater, on Amazon Instant Video, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
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