The Wonder (2022) Review
Florence Pugh Does Some Heavy Breathing
Florence Pugh (“ Black Widow”, “ Midsommar “) takes the lead role in Sebastián Lelio’s (“A Fantastic Woman”, “Gloria”) latest directorial feature which he also co-wrote with Alice Birch (“Succession (TV)”, “Lady Macbeth”) and Emma Donoghue (“Room”, “Pluck”), whose book The Wonder is based on.
We join Lib (Pugh) onboard a ship set for Ireland. Lib is a nurse who has been hired by a committee in a small Irish village. Lib doesn’t know the reason, but she’s a nurse, has been to the Crimian war, there must be someone in trouble who needs her help.
Imagine her surprise then when, upon arriving in Ireland, being ferried to this tiny ‘backwater’, as she dubs it, to be faced with the committee: Dr McBrearty, Toby Jones (“ A Boy Called Christmas”, “ Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”), Sir Otway, Dermot Crowley (“ The Death of Stalin”, “The Lady in the Van”), Father Thaddeus, Ciarán Hinds (“ Justice League”, “ First Man “), John Flynn, Brían F. O’Byrne (“Hatton Garden (TV)”, “The Last Ship (TV)”), with Sean Ryan, David Wilmot (“The Crown (TV)”, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”), whose inn Lib is staying at, also chiming in, and told she is here to watch.
That’s all Lib has to do, she will share shifts with Sister Michael, Josie Walker (“This Is Going to Hurt (TV)”, “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie”), a near silent nun, and take it in turns to watch Anna O’Donnell, Kíla Lord Cassidy (“The Doorman”, “Viewpoint (TV)”).
The reason? Well, they believe Anna is a miracle, a saint, for she hasn’t eaten in some four months now, something Lib is quick to point out is impossible. She has been set the task of proving this miracle, or disproving it as she seems inclined to do from the start.
This potential saintly miracle sees Anna having regular visitors, people wanting to meet her, touch her, see her. This includes a London newspaper writer in the form of Will Byrne, Tom Burke (“The Crown (TV)”, “Strike (TV)”), who is perhaps the most sceptical out of everyone.
The committee says the watch will last 14 days and at the end both Lib and Sister Michael will present their separate findings. They must not confer during the watch. Lib, who has struggles of her own and spend her evenings drugged up attempting to forget, or remember, her past, does everything she can to try and solve the riddle.
This includes, eventually, stopping Anna’s family from going near her. No morning or evening kisses, no holding hands for prayer. This is deeply upsetting for such a religious family and even as Anna’s health begins to decline, the family will not intervene.
Lelio begins The Wonder by letting us in behind the scenes of the movie, panning across some of the sets that have been built to land on Pugh on her ‘ship’. This also happens at the end as we pan away from Pugh to Anna’s older sister Kitty O’Donnell, Niamh Algar (“Wrath Of Man”, “Calm With Horses”), standing in her ‘civvies’.
This unique start and end bookends what is a fantastic movie. The Wonder is chocked full of magnificent performances and great moments of direction from Lelio, although I admit, at times, the floaty camera got a bit much.
It’s clever writing from Lelio, Birch and Donoghue as we have, on the one side, those who believe this whole thing to be a fraud, a con, and want nothing more than to get to the bottom of it and put it to bed. Whilst, on the other side, you have the believers, those who want nothing more than this to be a real miracle, perhaps, no matter the cost.
The trio don’t take sides per say, although we are following Lib primarily, it’s Anna’s sister Kitty who provides the voice over and the passion from those on the believers side is clear for all to see. It’s left for you to decide the truth, right up until it isn’t.
Originally published at https://www.ocmoviereviews.com.