Review: The Wonder
Set in The Irish Midlands in 1862, the story follows a young girl who stops eating but remains miraculously alive and well. English nurse Lib Wright is brought to a tiny village to observe eleven-year old Anna O'Donnell. Tourists and pilgrims mass to witness the girl who is said to have survived without food for months. Is the village harbouring a saint 'surviving on manna from heaven' or are there more ominous motives at work?
Florence Pugh, Tom Burke & Kíla Lord Cassidy.
The Wonder is the newest film from Sebastián Lelio since 2018 with Gloria Bell & it’s definitely his most unconventional one. From it’s final frame to its last, it begs the audience for their own interpretation of the story and for the most part, it worked with me.
Florence Pugh is one of the best actresses working today, with an impressive filmography and fantastic performances to show of it. While she is great here, I do believe she was rather underutilised, Sebastián doesn’t give Florence too much to work with, especially because of the lack of close ups on her that she could easily command. However, the star here is the breakout performance by Kíla, whom was nothing but extraordinary. You couldn’t ask of her for a better performance because she’s pitch perfect. Her character is layered with a lot of pain and grief, that she shares with Lib, coped between science and religion.
Besides performance, I particularly loved the sound and cinematography, complimenting both perfectly. There were many moments of silence & whispers that brought a tenderness to the film, despite the story being quite dark and thrilling. This contrast was needed, personally, to weigh the film nicely.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t a fan of a certain decision, that I assume originated from the book. While I won’t go into it, due to spoilers, you’ll be introduced to it with the first frame and it’s last. A much rather substitute would be the fleshing out of a relationship with Will & Lib, as well as tighter directing to build that tension more. There’s a tight story, but during many scenes, I felt as though the direction could be rather stronger in selling the genre and story.
Despite this, The Wonder has a lot to say under it’s surface. While not perfect, it’s an incredibly interesting adaptation of a book that will leave you more impressed than disappointed. Kíla is terrific and has an incredibly bright future ahead of her. This is one of the best adaptation’s this year & another great film in Florence Pugh’s already fantastic filmography.