The Wonder, starring Florence Pugh, transports us to 19th-century Ireland for a drama that will have you questioning your faith and your scientific assumptions.
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Synopsis of the film:
The Wonder follows Florence Pugh’s character, an English nurse named Lib Wright, when she visits a rural area in Ireland.
The film, based on Emma Donoghue’s novel of the same name, is set in the 19th century, and Lib is a nurse who has been engaged to investigate the case of Anna O’Donnell (Kla Lord Cassidy), a young girl who hasn’t eaten in months yet seems to be in excellent health.
In order to discover more about the child’s intriguing condition, Lib and a nun are hired to take shifts watching over her.
Dr. McBrearty has asked Lib to take care of Anna in the hospital (Tony Jones). Lib finds herself in an ethical conundrum as she tries to reconcile the spiritual and scientific perspectives on Anna’s condition.
It remains to be seen whether or not Lib will learn the truth regarding Anna’s health and what will happen to the amazing girl.
The Wonder gets off to an unusual beginning with a piece of backstory that serves to highlight the fabricated nature of storytelling.
When you think of movies as a tool for making you believe in the unbelievable, you’ll see that the 19th century could have created equally impressive faith-based stories even without the technological advancements of the time.
This film explores the tension between religion and medical science through the eyes of Lib, a nurse who has served in the war, lost a child, and is now certain that no miracle baby can survive four months without food.
The church, on the other hand, hopes that Anna will be recognized as a modern-day saint and blessed.
Since Lib’s observations are ignored by a council of male figures who would rather have her play the job of a watcher than a nurse, it would appear that both the scientific and religious institutions are failing the two women.
But the church is also failing Anna by convincing her that death is a blessing in disguise and that she should welcome it.
The loss they’ve both experienced brings Lib (Pugh) and Anna (Kla Lord Cassidy) closer together.
Interestingly, the movie changes its focus to the nurse instead of continuing to explore why Anna is still alive despite not eating.
Although it’s called “The Wonder,” this isn’t Anna’s tale; rather, it’s Lib’s struggle to keep her pledge and her resolve to save Anna no matter how fantastical the tactics may seem.
The narrative isn’t always clear, but there’s a certain charm to the way the story is conveyed that keeps you watching.
The psychodramatic lighting and close-ups, combined with Matthew Herbert’s eerily ominous composition, successfully create an uneasy atmosphere.
Some disorientation is caused by a new scene in which Kitty (Niamh Algar) breaks the fourth wall and references the note on which the film began, but this is only a narrative trick to keep the audience interested.
In terms of acting, Florence Pugh as Lib paints a heartbreakingly beautiful picture of a grieving mother struggling to make a new life for herself in a foreign country, all while developing an affectionate attachment to her patient Anna.
Even in the gaps between words, Pugh paints vivid pictures. Anna is also played superbly by Kla Lord Cassidy.
After confiding in Pugh’s Lib in the second act, Cassidy really comes into her own. Tony Jones and Tom Burke, who plays a reporter, both turn in strong supporting performances.
Positives of the film:
Sebastián Lelio’s direction makes a notable impression, transporting us to a 19th-century Ireland that is still recovering from the famine.
The film’s unsettling atmosphere is well-executed as you peel back its many layers, which may begin with a straightforward inquiry into Anna’s survival but ultimately engage in deeper themes that make social commentary on the chronology and the age-old struggle between spiritual and scientific values.
All of the story, music, and acting come together to create a compelling experience that runs just the right amount of time.
Negatives of the film:
While The Wonder has many layers to be revealed, not all of them are wrapped up at the conclusion.
The video provides hints and traces rather than spelling out everything, so it may be difficult to follow for people who prefer a more straightforward narrative.
- Amazing work by Florence Pugh.
- The ominous music composed by Matthew Herbert.
- Sebastián Lelio‘s deliberate leadership
It’s safe to say that by the end of The Wonder, you’ll have done some serious soul-searching.
Both the acting and the story in this film are superb, and they will keep you engaged right up to the final frame.