Wonderstruck

****

Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Wonderstruck
"This creative and visually arresting adaptation of Brian Selznick’s critically acclaimed novel marks a filmmaker at the top of his game."

With the first film to be seen in this year’s Cannes Competition Todd Haynes makes a triumphant return after the warmly received Carol two years ago.

This creative and visually arresting adaptation of Brian Selznick’s critically acclaimed novel marks a filmmaker at the top of his game.

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He floats two separate stories, one in 1927, about Rose, a deaf girl from New Jersey who takes herself off to New York in search of a famous actress she has just seen on screen in one of the last silent films to be shown in a local cinema before it is equipped for sound.

The other tale, set circa 1977, revolves around an orphan boy Ben, who is struck deaf apparently by a lightning strike. He also takes off for New York from his home in Minnesota. His goal is to find resolutions to his mysterious past.

The only point they have in common besides the quest is that they both want to find out what they have been missing. For Ben it is the father he has never known and for Rose it is the screen actress whose life she has chronicled in a scrapbook.

The way Haynes juxtaposes the two narratives shows a deft sleight of hand, with the story of Rose almost unfurling as a silent film with virtually no dialogue, in monochrome, and swept along by Carter Burwell’s lavish score.

The roles of the youngsters are taken by Oakes Fegley, 12, and Millicent Simmonds, 14, who is herself deaf and makes her screen debut alongside Michelle Williams and an actress much favoured by Haynes, Julianne Moore.

Haynes does not take a traditional story-telling path but the two stories coalesce in a satisfying way while the sense of two periods and style is exquisite.

It would be surprising even at this early stage in the festival if Wonderstruck does not appeal to Pedro Almodovar’s jury.

Reviewed on: 18 May 2017
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Ben and Rose are children from two different eras who secretly wish their lives were different. Both set out on quests.


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