Review by Adam Donato
The Wonder is the newest Netflix movie and this one has some significant names attached. Florence Pugh is one of the hottest (as in popular) young actresses working today. This year hasn’t been so hot though as Don’t Worry Darling had more drama behind the camera than in front of it. Director Sebastián Lelio won Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars in 2017. Put these two fantastic artists together and it's sure to be a hit. The story, based on a novel by Emma Donoghue, who also wrote Room, follows a nurse is hired to watch a young girl, who has managed to survive the last four months without eating food.
The film opens with a monologue over a panning shot of a soundstage that is basically begging the audience to play along with the story. It becomes clear why this plea is occurring as the plot is so obnoxiously annoying and boring. The story takes place during the mid 1800s in the Irish Midlands so their science certainly isn’t up to par, but the concept is so outwardly ludicrous and handled with zero percent of a sense of humor. IMDb lists the film as a drama, mystery, and thriller. The story is so dark and full of superstition that one might mistake it for a horror movie without any scares. There is definitely drama and mystery, but the topic of discussion is so vexing that it’s hard to care.
Florence Pugh and the rest of the cast do a good job. The look of the movie is good from a visual standpoint. The sets are very fitting and detailed. The filmmaking behind the movie is well done. The pacing and tone of the movie are where this picture really lacks. It’s hard to tell who this movie is even for. With how weird the concept is, it fits pretty well into the arthouse genre. The problem with streaming movies is they come and they go in record time. Unless they get nominated, they have no staying power. Even self-proclaimed streaming blockbusters like Red Notice and The Gray Man are forgotten just like that and no sequel announcement is going to change that. Netflix recently said they’re halting their vanity projects with talented directors. Lelio is a quality filmmaker and even a stinker like The Wonder has more artistic value than Red Notice or The Gray Man.
Pugh is quickly approaching being titled as a household name. If she gets more leading roles like this, but with some box office recognition she’s sure to be a staple for years to come. While this story is weird in all the wrong ways, there’s clear effort in the filmmaking involved. Maybe the mystery of how a girl can live without eating is more interesting than this review gives credit. Check this one out on Netflix to find out.
The Wonder is now playing in theaters and streams on Netflix beginning November 16.