2017 Movie Review: Wonderstruck

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Back in 2011, I had the privilege of attending a book signing event featuring Brian Selznick. His novel Wonderstruck had just come out, and the film Hugo was about to come out. He seemed like a fascinating author, and I would discover soon afterward that his novels translate brilliantly to the big screen.

However, I never finished reading Wonderstruck. I don’t know why, I just wasn’t hooked into the story. But I was very intrigued when I heard that Todd Haynes was directing a film adaptation. I went into this expecting this to be one of my favorite films of the year.

While I don’t think the film was quite that good, I did enjoy it for what it was.

Much like its book counterpart, Wonderstruck just didn’t seem as exciting as Hugo. I don’t know what it is, but the sense of adventure feels dimmed, and the movie does drag at times. Now, in all fairness, this is not an easy book to adapt into a film. And Todd Haynes does a good job with what he’s given.

The MVP of the cast is probably newcomer Millicent Simmons. The filmmakers felt it was crucial to cast a child who is actually deaf to play her role, and the decision pays off. I feel kind of bad for Millicent because I know she’s not gonna get a ton of other roles after this. For what it’s worth, she’s very good.

As far as the other actors go, Oakes Fegley does a good job, but his performance doesn’t ring as true as Millicent’s. Julianne Moore is also very good, although I feel casting her in two roles wasn’t entirely necessary. And by the way, Michelle Williams only has about five minutes of screen time despite receiving third billing on the poster.

At the end of the day, I enjoyed this film. It’s very pretty to look at, and the soundtrack is absolutely beautiful. But once it ended, it left me a bit confused on what the point was supposed to be. As it is, the movie is very much an arthouse piece. Not everyone is going to get it. I decided to give the film three and a half, as I feel there’s an equal chance that the film could go to three stars or to four stars on a repeat viewing. We’ll see what happens.

***1/2 out of ****

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