Directed by Todd Haynes
6th – 12th April 2018
Reviewed by Colin Serjent
I walked out of the cinema after watching this film as if I had just woken up from a two hour magical dream, such is its mystical quality.
The central core of Wonderstruck is focused on two deaf children, each in two different time-frames. Fifty years separates them, 1927 and 1977.
Director Todd Haynes is not averse to create the unexpected in his movies – he once cast Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan in ‘I’m Not There’- and his experimentation hits the mark again in this latest project, which involved a very large cast and extensive film crew, numbering over 700 people.
The 1927 sequences works far better of the two time differences. It is photographed like a black & white silent movie, with the charismatic 12-year-old Rose (Millicent Simmonds), who is actually deaf in real-life, producing a majestic performance for an actor so young.
The period detail of the clothing, the streets, traffic, buildings and the mannerisms of people are a joy to watch. It’s a perfect homage to the silent movie era.
Rose is in search of her estranged mother, Lillian Mayhew (Julianne Moore), who is a famous silent movie star.
On the other hand, the deaf child Ben (Oakes Fegley) is in pursuit of his unknown father.
Haynes can clearly identify with both children’s characters, with his own life’s recollections and dreams in The Big Apple, when they both arrive in New York.
Cinematographer Ed Lachman makes the 1977 sequences resemble the look of classic Kodachrome colour of that period. Like the 1927 sequences they are very realistic of New York at that time.
In essence Wonderstruck is Haynes’ rich tribute to the everlasting value of museums and archive collections in general, bookshops and individual private art collections. The American Museum of Natural History is a significant plot feature.
I believe that there is a symbolic reason why Haynes decided upon both leading characters being deaf but I can not put my finger on it.
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