There's a new Ben Affleck movie out today, and it's completely different from anything you've ever seen him in before. Terrence Malick's To the Wonder stars Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Ukrainian actress Olga Kurylenko, and Javier Bardem. It's a "romantic drama about men and women grappling with love and its many phases and seasons." It's Love Actually II! Haha, actually, no. It is so NOT that.
Okay, so here's the basic plot. Neil (Ben Affleck) is a traveling American who falls in love with Marina, a single mom (Olga Kurylenko) living in Paris. He brings her and her 10-year-old daughter back to the U.S. And then her visa runs out and she returns to France. And then Neil hooks up with Jane (Rachel McAdams), an old girlfriend. Then he finds out Marina is in a crisis and he brings her back to the U.S. and marries her. And then they fight a lot. Meanwhile, Javier Bardem plays a Catholic priest who goes around ministering to the sick and afflicted, murmuring to himself about faith and love and doubt and the usual existential spiritual questions.
Marina spends a lot of time spinning around wherever she goes. Like, constantly. Marina never met a wide-open field she didn't want to spin around in, arms out-flung. She's the "Hills Are Alive" Sound of Music opening scene times 100. You know what? Forget what I said about this movie being about love and stuff. It's about Olga spinning and murmuring to herself in French (with subtitles). There's also a lot of murmuring to oneself in this movie.
When Olga's not spinning, she's nuzzling Ben Affleck, which made me very uncomfortable. Maybe I'm just a little too invested in Ben and Jennifer Garner's marriage, but I kept wanting to say NOT cool, Affleck (I know, I know, acting!), AND THEN. He takes up with Rachel McAdams and that pisses me off more. AND THEN! Just when I'm getting used to them as a couple, he goes and dumps her for Marina after all. Ugh! I kind of hated Affleck's character for being such a brooding, fickle commitment-phobe. Even when he finally marries Marina, he's emotionally distant, which drives her crazy.
There is no dialogue in this movie. I have no freaking idea what Marina and Neil even fight about. You just see them throwing things with moody music in the background. I guess the idea is that it doesn't matter what they fight over, but without those details, it's hard to be emotionally invested in their relationship.
And Javier Bardem? What a waste of this sexy actor! He just walks around looking doleful in a cassock.
So in conclusion, this is exactly the kind of arty movie your husband dreads you'll take him to. It's more like a series of memories or an impressionist painting than a traditional, plot-driven movie. I loved Malick's previous movie, Tree of Life. This was almost like a parody of Tree of Life. But if you can slip into the slow, meditative rhythms of this movie (the cinematography is gorgeous), you may find something that resonates for you.
Are you going to blow off this review and see the movie anyway?
Image via Magnolia Pictures