Wonderstruck

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.

It’s easy to see just why two of our greatest working filmmakers, Martin Scorsese and now Todd Haynes, have been attracted to the work of author Brian Selznick, who wrote the source material for Hugo as well as Wonderstruck, the illustrated book that Haynes adapts for his new film. They are stories of lonely childhoods and tentative friendships set in periods resonant for both filmmakers, and while the narrative arcs are simple, family-friendly, and unafraid to iterate and reiterate their broad emotional beats, that very simplicity feels tipsy with cinematic potential. And when you have craftsmen such as these behind the camera, the resulting films are positively drunk with love for the medium: Wonderstruck lives in the glory of its filmmaking – its photography, its costuming, its set design, its brilliantly variegated Carter Burwell score.

Poster for the parallel-times drama WonderstruckThe main thread of the story follows Ben (Oakes Fegley), a little boy living in 1977 in the evocatively named Gunflint, Minnesota with his aunt’s family, after his mother (Michelle Williams, in a sliver of a role of which we wish we had more) is killed in a car crash. She had promised to reveal to him the identity of his father ‘when the time is right’, but died before that time ever came, and the grieving Ben, after he suffers an accident that takes his hearing, runs away to New York City to pursue a clue he’s found about his dad’s identity. In parallel, in black and white and entirely without voiced dialogue, we watch the seemingly unrelated but cosmically symmetrical story of Rose (appealing newcomer Millicent Simmonds), which takes place 50 yaers earlier, in 1927. Rose is a young deaf Hoboken girl who also runs away to Manhattan, in her case to find a glamorous actress (played, in the first of two small but pivotal roles, by Julianne Moore).

For a time, the shifts between the two strands seem to come almost at random, but soon the rhythm settles, as the stories begin to reveal themselves as a kind of continuum that will culminate in a reveal that is so beautifully played (all the more remarkable because so much of it is delivered by the not-especially-filmic device of having handwritten notes read aloud) that it doesn’t matter that it lacks surprise: it’s as satisfying as a deep sigh.

– Jessica Kiang, The Playlist


Please note: Matinee screenings of Wonderstruck (ie. shows that begin before 5pm) will be presented with open captions.

On Saturday, November 18, our 2pm show has Family matinée Everyone's A Kid ($6) pricing!
 

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