It feels like the book has already been closed on Terrence Malick’s forthcoming release, To the Wonder— the film received nothing but contempt in varying forms and degrees at both the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals. At the same time it’s hard not to watch this clip and be awed. Beautiful, stunning cinematography is Malick’s calling card, of course, so there’s little surprise to how utterly captivating the trailer is, but expectation doesn’t make what we see here any less lovely and magnetic.
Of course, if Malick’s style of untethered, free form filmmaking isn’t your cup of tea, you’ve likely already got your mind more or less made about To the Wonder, which is your prerogative. Generally I’m hot and cold on his work, but Tree of Life did kind of wrinkle my brain in the best ways possible (though my final assessment of the film is still vague and opaque, much like the film itself) and Days of Heaven is magnificent. From the sounds of things, To the Wonder relates much more to the former than the latter, and in fact a lot of the disappointed, venomous reactions to the film that I’ve read suggest that it’s almost a follow-up to Malick’s 2011 opus.
Based on the trailer, I can believe it. In fact, so many of the images in this clip dovetail those of Tree of Life so blatantly as to give the impression that To the Wonder is meant to serve as its thematic and visual companion. For those of us who didn’t have the good fortune to attend TIFF this year (or the great fortune to attend VIFF), we’ll have to wait until April to get our satisfaction.