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Ben Affleck, Olga Kuylenko...falling in love in France

Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko…falling in love in France

“TO THE WONDER” My rating: C (Opens May 3 at the Tivoli)

112 minutes | MPAA rating: R

There’s a temptation to write off “To the Wonder” as a dead-on satiric parody of a Terrence Malick film.

Except that it is a Terrence Malick film.

And since I don’t think Malick is making fun of himself, we are left to struggle with just what  this admittedly talented but hugely exasperating filmmaker is up to.

Hell, maybe he’s just perverse.

“To the Wonder” embraces all the elements that irritated people with his previous film, “The Tree of Life” (which I count as one of the great movies of the last decade) and jettisons all the good stuff.

The film may be the ultimate statement in Malick’s war on narrative. It’s visually poetic, yeah — like an artsy fartsy TV commercial where you can never figure out what they’re selling — but also emotionally empty. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the movie is throwing a hearty “fuck you” into our faces.

I’m going to assume Malick is not just giving us the finger here, that he has attempted to make a real piece of art, and that he has failed.

Happens to everyone. Now how about a plot next time?

Here’s what we can say with certainty. “To the Wonder” is about an American man (Ben Affleck) who on a trip to France falls in love with a young woman (Olga Kurylenko) and brings her and her young daughter back to live with him in the U.S.

Except that he resides in a treeless, flat, irony-free tract-home subdivision outside Bartlesville, OK. It’s a neighborhood hemmed in on one side by high-tension power lines and on the other by an Interstate. There’s an oil well in the back yard.

Hmmmm…let’s see.  Paris…or Oklahoma?  Gosh, it’s such a tough call.

It’s enough to make you think this woman hasn’t got a brain in her head. (more…)

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