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Movie review 'To the Wonder'

Posted 12:31pm on Thursday, Apr. 18, 2013

R (some sexuality, nudity); 113 min.

There are no dinosaurs. No swirling cosmos. Not even a confused Sean Penn stumbling about in the desert.

From the breathy, trancelike dialogue fragments that could have been lifted from a wispy Calvin Klein cologne commercial to the sensual scenes of undulating water caressing a shoreline, Wonder typifies the work of one of modern cinema’s most talented masters.

It follows the soul-searching plights of four characters, all of whom face spiritual and emotional crises.

The result is visual poetry that’s dimmed only by Ben Affleck’s uncomfortable performance. As a conflicted construction engineer at odds with others and his environment, the usually solid actor (and director) never ventures beyond obvious tics, including walking around with his hands stuck in his pockets. Director Terrence Malick doesn’t help Affleck, presenting fewer opportunities for him to burrow into the disharmony inside his character.

The rest of the cast, however, is remarkable.

The gospel according to Malick might not be all that original for him, but this sermon remains timeless and transcendent.

Exclusive: The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; Angelika Dallas; Angelika Plano and on Video on Demand

--Randy Myers, Contra Costa Times

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