Film Review: Energy of Visual Cinema is the Power of ‘Wonderstruck’

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CHICAGO – In one of the coolest visual films of the Fall Season thus far, “Wonderstruck” is another winner from director Todd Haynes (“Carol”), who adapts a Young Adult graphic novel by Brian Selznick (who also wrote the screenplay). The wonder of it all, baby.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

The film splits between two eras in history, the 1920s and the 1970s, and makes the destination New York City, naturally. The atmosphere in those two decades is the strength of the film, as the black and white 1920s create a dream, and the colorful 1970s have a golden glow of nostalgia. Director Haynes grew up as a teenager in the latter time, and meticulously recreates the grit and glory of pre-Disneyland New York City. The story itself is less impressive, more of a I-figured-it-out fairy tale than a connective warmth. But the heart is in the right place here, and the beauty of the film – especially in the letter perfect re-creation of cinema in the time of silent movies – is all that is necessary to get that old Todd Haynes movie jolt… the characters produce the wonder as they wander.

The film begins in groovy 1978, where a boy named Ben (Oakes Fegley) is pining for his deceased mother (Michelle Williams). He begins to feel her presence, even using a phone in a storm to somehow connect. When a lightning bolt hits the wires, Ben goes deaf, but that doesn’t stop him from escaping to New York City, to find his father, to honor his mother.

In 1928, a deaf girl named Rose (Millicent Simmonds) is being tortured by her autocratic father (James Urbaniak). She wants to see her mother, silent movie star Lillian Mayhew (Julianne Moore), as she appears in a Broadway play. Rose escapes to New York City, and makes it to the theater, only to find out that her journey might not have been worth it. The two stories, fifty years apart, begin to come together.

”Wonderstruck” is currently in nationwide release. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Millicent Simmonds, Oakes Fegley and Jaden Michael. Screenplay adapted by Brian Selznick, from his novel. Directed by Todd Haynes. Rated “PG

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Wonderstruck”

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Rose (Millicent Simmonds) in ‘Wonderstruck’
Photo credit: Roadside Attractions

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Wonderstruck”

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