Todd Haynes’ ‘Wonderstruck’ Weaves Two Beautiful Tales Into a Majestic Whole

VANAPHASE™ the Vanadium powerhouse!


There are two stories that intertwine in Todd HaynesWonderstuck, the film based on the novel by Brian Selznick. But it’s not just two stories taking place on opposite ends of a city with a predictable means of intersection. Oh no. Instead, Wonderstruck takes place in two separate timelines, unfolding with two separate cinematic styles as it leaves you wondering just how these two parallel stories will collide. That mystery that drives so much of Wonderstruck may make it hard to forge an immediate emotional connection, but as the pieces begin to fall in place and the mystery begins to reveal itself, Wonderstruck culminates in a powerful, moving conclusion that makes this wondrous journey really something special.

The first of these two intersecting stories takes place in 1977. In Minnesota, young Ben (Oakes Fegley) is still mourning the loss of his mother (Michelle Williams) in a recent car accident. The young boy who has never known his father discovers a clue towards his identity within his mother’s old possessions, an address for a bookstore in New York City. After a freak accident leaves him deaf, the young man uses what limited resources he has to get to the Big Apple in the hopes of discovering his parentage.

In the second story set in 1927, Rose (Millicent Simmonds) is a young deaf girl that spends her time clipping out pictures of movie stars from the latest magazines. Her father (James Urbaniak) isn’t keen on her hobby, and that authoritative attitude of the father drives the young woman to leave her home in New Jersey and travel to heart of New York City. One of her matinee idols, Lillian Mayhew (Julianne Moore), is set to appear on the stage and the young girl makes the journey to see the star in person.

Both of these stories take these characters to the American Museum of Natural History, and buried within the relics on display is the key that unites these two lives travelling alone in New York City.

Each of these tales unfold with wildly divergent styles, allowing Todd Haynes to really flex his visual muscles. The New York of 1977 is the New York of urban decay, a city crumbling under the weight of its own existence. The cinematography of Edward Lachman looks like the gritty crime films of the era, a feel that is reminiscent of Dog Day Afternoon even though this film doesn’t feature the seedy elements of armed robbery. The New York of 1927 is a black and white hustle and bustle, bringing a style that is austere and somewhat reminiscent of the era’s silent dramas. Haynes weaves in and out of these two stories without revealing too much at once. So much of the film unfolds without a word of dialogue being uttered that it’s up to the actors and their physical gestures to inform us of what’s happening, although Haynes is in no rush to reveal the connection.

In the same way the film visually bounces between styles, the stunning score by Carter Burwell does the same. When in the streets of New York in the ‘70s, Burwell’s music is pulled from the era – a bit of funk, a bit of rock, a bit of soul. In the black and white past of the ‘20s, Burwell’s score steps back and is much more traditional its dramatic tone without ever crossing over into ragtime-like style of so many silent films. Burwell has always been an astounding composer who brings new life to each movie he works on and his work on Wonderstruck may just be his finest hour. The music works in conjunction with a story that mostly unfolds through silence and has a mystery deep within its heart, and the cues of Burwell’s score never gives away any of the major reveals that occur in the film’s emotional climax.

Todd Haynes and Brian Selznick, who wrote the screenplay based on his own novel, take their time in cluing in the audience as to just how these two stories in different times intersect. It’s extremely deliberate in its construction and withholding, leaving plenty of room for the viewer to doubt if anything will ever connect these loose threads. When they do connected, and I’m not revealing how, it lands with a resounding emotional punch, one that will have you reaching for the tissues. There’s nothing gimmicky or forced in this emotional conclusion, just a human story that touches the soul. It’s a powerful moment that fully validates everything that came before it.

Todd Haynes is one of our special filmmakers and Wonderstruck is another special film in his filmography. This is a movie with a heart and brain, a look and a feel that is rarely achieved in the medium. Wonderstruck flows gracefully between its two stories before uniting them in an emotional crescendo of absolute beauty. Haynes fills his film with a warmth that drowns out cynicism, and presents us with a reaffirming tale about connections through time, even ones that are elusive and don’t seem entirely clear at first.

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Trailer
The Wizarding World Expands Further in the ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ Trailer

You can’t blame Warner Brothers for wanting to keep the Harry...

Godzilla: King of the Monsters Trailer
Hail to the King, Baby! The ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ Trailer is Unleashed

Warner Brothers had a big day in San Diego today with...

Shazam! Trailer
‘Shazam!’ Looks to Flip the Superhero Genre on its Head with its First Teaser

Say his name. Shazam! In what looks to be a superhero...

Event News Event Reviews
Blizzard SDCC 2018
Blizzard SDCC 2018 – Blizzard Entertainment Brings Massive Lineup to SDCC

Blizzard in SDCC 2018 – Blizzard Entertainment brings Overwatch, StarCraft, and...

Nuclear Blast SDCC 2018
Nuclear Blast SDCC 2018 – Nuclear Blast Teams Up with JSR and Stern Pinball

Nuclear Blast SDCC 2018 – Nuclear Blast Teams Up with JSR...

Anime expo 2018
Anime Expo 2018 Brings the Heat to Los Angeles

Last year, I picked on Anime Expo not being worth the...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Exclusive Interview with Mark Mowbray of KLab

Established in 2000, KLab‘s goal is to create a world of excitement...

Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene
Mondo Games Unleashes Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene Board Game

MONDO GAMES unleashes Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene board game for 25th Anniversary...

Great Coffee Break
Escape Work By Playing The Great Coffee Break

You can escape work, in more ways than one, by playing The...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel
Dark Horse Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel Revealed

Dark Horse reveals new original Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic...

black torch
Black Torch – New Supernatural, Action Manga from Viz Media

VIZ Media releases a new, supernatural story with the release of...

Batman / The Maxx: Arkham Dreams
Sam Kieth Makes Long-Awaited Return to The Outback in Batman / The Maxx: Arkham Dreams

SAN DIEGO, CA and BURBANK, CA (June 21, 2018) – Batman...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
anime pls
Anime Pls by Bioworld – Exclusive Interview

Bioworld Merchandising is a pop culture product expert. The company is considered...

heaven's feel
Fate/stay night [Heaven’s Feel] THE MOVIE I. presage flower Blu-ray Release

TLDR Aniplex of America announced that box office hit, Fate/stay night ...

Few Even Come Close – EVEN H2 Headphones Review

Even headphones are like having prescription glasses, but for your ears...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
NJPW G1 Special from San Francisco Results

New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) the King of Sports returns to...

Jeanie Buss & MGM TV Tags AXS TV to Broadcast WOW-Women of Wrestling Events

Jeanie Buss and MGM Television Tags AXS TV to Broadcast WOW-Women...

Kevin Belington Faces Martin Nguyen for the ONE FC Interim Bantamweight Title

From ONE FC – 07 June 2018 – Manila, Philippines: The...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Harlan Ellison: A tribute (of sorts)

For the longest time in my life I was afraid of...

Iron Fist Racist
Is Marvel Iron Fist Racist? Part 2- Yeah…

After the casting controversy, two shows, and a guest appearance in Marvel...

Cultural Junkdrawer – Season’s end: The Flash season 4


Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming. Related

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack
Blake Neely Behind-the-Scenes Recording of Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack

Check out this exclusive Behind-The-Scenes video with Blake Neely as he...

Rising Country Music Artist Kaylin Roberson Talks About her work with St. Jude

Kaylin Roberson is a singer, songwriter and pianist from Raleigh, North...

MTV Unveils Performers for ‘TRL Live’ on October 3rd at 3 p.m. E.T.

NEW YORK, NY (September 26, 2017) – MTV today announced that...

%d bloggers like this: