A young boy on a quest to find his father. A young girl on a quest to find acceptance in society. These are the underlying themes of Todd Haynes’ newest film Wonderstruck.
Fans of the Martin Scorsese film Hugo will find similarities with Haynes’ Wonderstuck, as they are both based on novels by author Brian Selznick. While Hugo focused on the fanciful tale of a boy living in 1930’s Paris, Wonderstruck decides to weave two tales together from two different decades to show while times may have changed, the issues we face are still the same.
Wonderstruck opens in the 1970’s in Minnesota, where a young boy named Ben (Oakes Fegley) is coping with the sudden loss of his mother (Michelle Williams) who was killed in a car accident. When a bizarre accident leaves Ben with no hearing, he makes an escape to New York City on a hunt for the father he never knew.
At the same time, Ben’s tale is interwoven with a black and white story about Rose (Millicent Simmonds), a hearing impaired girl in 1920’s New Jersey who’s only joy in life is the silent films she watches at the local cinema. She decides to run off to New York in search of her favourite movie star (Julianne Moore), and along the way faces many trials and tribulations. Linking the two stories together is a book about the Natural History Museum that both children use to help them in their journey.
This is definitely a movie that relies on it’s soundtrack due to the nature of it’s story but it helps guide the plot beautifully. When Ben arrives in New York, his travels around the city are accompanied by 70’s funk music, representing a hot summer in the city. As Rose makes her journey across the Hudson River, it’s accompanied by lovely orchestral music, representing the time period.
While Haynes’ last film Carol was more geared towards adults, Wonderstruck is definitely a film all ages can enjoy as its themes will resonate with everyone. I definitely recommend checking out this film and make sure to bring some tissues with you for the heartwarming moments!
Elevation Pictures releases Wonderstruck in Toronto on Friday, October 27, 2017
[Review by Jennifer King]