The trailer for Wonderstruck was probably one of the best trailers I’ve seen in a long time which made me excited to see this.
Synopsis: In 1927, a young girl runs away from home in New Jersey and makes her way to Manhattan, hoping to find someone who was an important part of her past. Fifty years later, a deaf boy befallen by personal tragedy finds a clue about his family that leads him to run away from rural Minnesota to New York. As their adventures lead them to strange new places, where mysteries about themselves and the world seem to lurk around every corner, their stories of discovery reach across years of silence and regret, and find each other through a mesmerizing symmetry driven by wonder and hope. (Elevation Pictures)
Starring: Oakes Fegley, Millicent Simmonds, and Julianne Moore
Writer: Brian Selznick
Director: Todd Haynes
Rating: PG (Canada/United States)
Running Time: 116mins
For showtimes and more, check out Wonderstruck on movietimes.com.
Great films are an escape where you can forget about your problems for a few hours. We all used to be children as well. They are naturally curious and have a sense of wonder. This film did an excellent job at appealing to our childlike sense of wonder and imagination in a way that will surely resonate with viewers young and old. The film follows a pair of children named Ben (Fegley) and Rose (Simmonds) as they embark to New York City on a journey of self-discovery.
What was special about Ben and Rose was that they lived in two completely different decades with Ben living in the 70s and Rose in the 20s. The story would cut between both story arcs, not always seamlessly, mostly via Ben’s dreams. He started dreaming about Rose but Ben story was more about finding his father. Rose was a deaf girl who wanted to find her place in the world. Of course both are connected to each other somehow and those who have read the novel in which the film is based already know but the film does handles this in an awkward way that it can’t quite make up for at the end.
Both stories were very compelling to watch as Ben, perhaps feeling incomplete, found a clue of his father’s identity that led him to New York while Rose was looking to get away from her abusive father. What made it better was how their trajectories seemingly mirrored each other as Ben would retake Rose’s steps 50 years later. Being deaf, Rose was a big fan of silent movies and her deaf mother Lillian (Moore) who just happened to be a famed silent movie star. Her arc was shown in black and white and was completely silent, playing like a silent film. The lack of sound meant that the film relied on Rose’s many facial expressions to convey emotion. The fact that Ben became deaf later on also added an interesting synergy to the story.
Both story arcs also featured an incredibly emotional score, subtly changing between characters. The film also did a great job at showing how New York City had changed after 50 years. Kudos has to go to the set and costume designers and even the cinematography for creating two distinct versions of the city both with a considerable amount of detail. Both of them were overwhelmed by the big city as it triggered each of their relatable sense of wonder. This was most evident when both arcs converged at the Museum of National History which became another character in the story with each leading to the birth of museums.
The acting was great across the board with Fegley and Simmonds being the standouts. They may be kids but they were the leads and were fun to watch during each of their story arcs. Simmonds, being deaf in real life, gave the better performance of the two by saying a lot without ever speaking through her command of facial expressions and body language. Both arcs could have been their own films but Rose’s was the better one (and I didn’t want it to end). Moore, as another deaf character, was solid in a supporting role closer to the end of the film.
Overall, this was a beautiful film that manages to appeal to one’s sense of wonder and imagination which will surely resonate with both young and old thanks to an incredible score, great production values, and a relatable story that slightly stumbles by the end.