Title – The Wonder (2022)
Director – Sebastián Lelio (A Fantastic Woman)
Cast – Florence Pugh, Tom Burke, Kíla Lord Cassidy, Niamh Algar, Toby Jones, Ciarán Hinds
Plot – Set in the late 1800’s of Ireland, English nurse Lib Wright (Pugh) is tasked with watching over and giving a medical opinion on young girl Anna O’Donnell (Cassidy) who has supposedly not eaten food for over 4 months, making her a miracle in action or someone hiding a dark secret.
“I’m looking for facts”
Review by Eddie on 30/11/2022
A slow and steady Netflix drama that if nothing else proves Florence Pugh is arguably the in-form actress of Hollywood right this minute, The Wonder is a strange dramatic hybrid that explores issues of faith, religion, family and love in a topsy-turvey way that sways between gripping and boring, en-route to a disappointing final stretch that makes much of what has come before it feel like more of a slog than a thrilling mystery.
Set in the dreary and unforgiving Irish boglands of the 1800’s, director Sebastián Lelio’s feature, that begins in an unexpected manner with modern day narration informing us about the merits of stories and who tells them, The Wonder isn’t a typical period drama but much of its segments and big topic issues feel like ground that has been covered in various forms countless times before, with much of the films goodness coming solely from Pugh’s noteworthy turn.
As grieving and concerned English nurse Lib Wright, recruited by a small Irish community to come and both tend to and observe young girl Anna O’Donnell, who has reportedly not eaten for a period of 4 months, Pugh is the heart and soul of the film with her turn one that could potentially feature at end of year award ceremonies in the coming months and whether shes playing off Tom Burke’s love interest, Kila Lord Cassidy’s frail Anna or Niamh Algar’s feisty Kitty, Pugh is a league above and her emotionally charged performance feels like it belongs in a film that offers more satisfaction than Lelio’s film end’s up providing at its conclusion.
Filled with characters we wish we knew more about, Kitty one and also Toby Jones doctor Dr McBrearty and Ciarán Hinds local priest Father Thaddeus, many of the sideline characters of The Wonder feel undercooked, while Anna’s whole family unit remain at arms length throughout much of The Wonder’s runtime leaving us with only the central mystery of Anna’s condition and what may be at play with her issues as the driving force behind staying engaged across the films slowly paced narrative.
When the narrative arrives at our answer fairly far from the end of Lib and Anna’s journey however, much of the films intrigue and ability to keep us wanting more quickly disappears and while hopeful viewers will have been awaiting some unforgettable revelations, what The Wonder leaves us with is a familiar film that stands above some of its lesser peers purely on the back of Pugh’s commanding turn.
Final Say –
Offering Florence Pugh another chance to shine in a leading role, The Wonder is a potential awards contender in that department but despite an eerie tone and an initially gripping plot-line, Sebastián Lelio’s film peters out to become a well-made but mostly forgettable mystery with little to no heart and soul.
2 1/2 muddy dresses out of 5
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