The film is centred on Neil (Ben Affleck), a man who is torn between two loves: Marina (Olga Kurylenko), the European woman who comes to the United States to be with him, and Jane (Rachel McAdams), the old flame he reconnects with from his hometown. Neil's doubts about his life and loves are reflected in the crisis of faith experienced by Father Quintana (Javier Bardem).
As an outspoken enemy of all things Terrence Mallick has ever had any affiliation with (most notably the Tree of Life) I was somewhat loathe to watch to the Wonder; however I thought must remain professional and as such sat down with an open mind.
What followed was a disjointed and clichéd romance with religious overtones that seem to lead into nothingness. I could not help but picture a long and tedious car journey that ends with a slow decline into a vast open space – not one lush with possibilities but barren and void of defining features. Whether it was the romance story or the religious subtext, or perhaps a combination of the two, either way this is yet another Mallick film I could not recommend.
Ben Affleck stars as Neil, an American travelling Europe who meets Marina (Olga Kurylenko Quantum of Solace), a Ukrainian single mother living in Paris with her daughter. Their courtship is brief and portrayed through a number of predictable set pieces and montages depicting the couple in any number of clichéd romance settings, and reaches a head when Neil ask Marina to relocate to his home in Okalahoma with her daughter.
Soon after their arrival in the States things begin to go south for Neil and Marina, Neil finds himself drawn back to an old flame and Marina finding comfort in the company of another lost exile, Father Quintana (Javier Bardem). From this point the couple drift apart and the space between them begins to fill with religious quandaries regarding Quintana’s crisis of faith and the Catholic responsibility felt by Marina regarding her daughter and her relationship with Neil.
The links between the first two acts of the film, the courtship and relationship of Marina and Neil to those of the film’s latter third and Father Quintana’s crisis of faith are not only tenuous but seemingly non existent. Though symbolic images of God litter the earlier parts of the film they are muted, lost in the fragmented portrayal of romance and ultimately ineffective by the film’s conclusion. Alongside this the character’s themselves are little more than paper shapes, cut to resemble their more memorable counterparts from more obvious Hollywood tripe.