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'To the Wonder' is director Terrence Malick at his most incomprehensible

'To the Wonder' stars Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko.

By Peter RainerFilm critic / April 26, 2013

'To the Wonder' stars Ben Affleck (r.) and Olga Kurylenko (l.).

Mary Cybulski/Magnolia Pictures/AP

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A new movie by Terrence Malick used to be greeted with high expectations, partly because he made so very few of them. Each unveiling was an event. But he’s been turning them out pretty frequently of late: 2011's “The Tree of Life” has been followed by “To the Wonder,” with another film reportedly close to completion.

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I was not a big cheerleader for “The Tree of Life,” but “To the Wonder” is far below it. Essentially it’s an agglomeration of Malick’s worst stylistic annoyances – the highflown, hollow-sounding voice overs; the religioso-philosophical incantations often uttered by people who look like they never cracked a book; and so on.

Ben Affleck wanders almost wordlessly through this film in an uncomprehending daze (I sympathize with him), while Olga Kurylenko, as his partner in a doomed love affair, spends most of her time spinning herself around like a top in the open air.

Is Malick deliberately courting self-parody here? Probably not. That would imply he had a sense of humor. Grade: C- (Rated R for some sexuality/nudity.)

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