Director: Sebastian Lelio
Starring: Florence Pugh, Kila Lord Cassidy, Tom Burke
The Pale Blue Eye, The Crucible, and Lady Macbeth combined, The Wonder is a dark mystery, a religious horror spectacle, and a sweeping period piece all in one film; not a bad way to spend a random 100 minutes on Netflix. For a film that couldn’t have gone more under the radar, The Wonder is a solid piece of cinema, and you’d think, with Florence Pugh on board, that it would have garnered more attention. The fact that it didn’t lends to its mystique, but it’s definitely worth watching far beyond any gimmick.
In 1862, Nurse Wright is called from England across the sea to Ireland to attend to a special case. She’s a widower, was a nurse in the Crimean War, and takes the special job, not knowing entirely what that job may be. A young girl, Anna O’Donnell, has supposedly not eaten for four months, living only by the grace of God. The town has called a nurse and a nun to watch over the child, to see if this is science or God’s work, and to report on the case over a period of two weeks. But Wright soon discovers much more to the story, and soon will be fighting for the life of a girl against the powerful forces that pull her in deadly directions.
For a film you’ve never heard of, The Wonder is quite good. It starts oddly, has strange music, always feels a bit bizarre, but the longer you watch the more you fall deep into the story, and as events finally begin to unfold audiences are rewarded with a many-layered moral that’s at once fascinating and hard to watch. Florence Pugh is as good as ever, if perhaps a tad forgettable; everyone in this film slides into their roles but never particularly shines. It will make you angry, it will drive you mad, both the tale and the film itself, but by the end it will have been time well spent.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆