The new movie called WONDERSTRUCK is based on a popular “young adult” novel, but while teenagers may like the film, it’s even better suited for adults.
WONDERSTRUCK is both poignant and beautiful. I was amazed by the inspired cinematography, creative editing and the evocative musical score.
The movie tells the separate but closely related stories of two 12 year old deaf children, a boy and a girl.
But while her story is set in 1927; his takes place in 1977, a full 50 years later.
After the boy’s mother dies suddenly in 1977 and he is struck deaf in a freak accident, Ben (played by Oakes Fegley) runs away to Manhattan where he hopes to find the father he never knew.
Millicent Simmond, a first time actress who really is deaf, plays Rose whose story unfolds in 1927 when she takes a ferry to Manhattan to find her mother, a silent movie star who abandoned her and is now on stage in a New York play.
As the film cuts back and forth between the very different worlds of the two kids, we get to see the transformation Manhattan underwent between the 1920’s to the 1970’s. What makes the contrast truly stunning is that Rose’s entire story is presented as if it had been made in the 20’s. It’s shown on black and white film with music but no dialogue.
While Ben’s journey is shown in vivid colors with pop music from the 70’s when many of the city’s streets were pretty shabby.
An even more surprising parallel between these the two stories is that both characters find themselves at the Museum of Natural History where Ben’s father and Rose’s brother once worked.
Part of the appeal of WONDERSTRUCK is how the mystery of the connection between the boy and the girl are revealed which I won’t spoil here. But I will say that the resolution shows how important it is to search for the people who truly understand you.
I wish I could say that WONDERSTRUCK is flawless, but it isn’t. Its one weakness is that the plot is drawn out for longer than it should be. But for people willing to be a little patient, WONDERSTRUCK should be deeply satisfying.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now. firstname.lastname@example.org