By: Addison Wylie
The Wonders is slow, unremarkable, and unfortunately, blends in all too well.
Writer/director Alice Rohrwacher’s drama is a story of squashed empowerment by a superior who doesn’t know any better. The young Gelsomina (played by Maria Alexandra Lungu) finds herself as a leader within her detached family; which proves to be a blessing and a burden. She’s dependable, trustworthy, and a figure of inspiration to her siblings. However, her father Wolfgang (played by Sam Louwyck) shows hardly any respect or acknowledgement and often presents himself as a brute who has every ounce of his interest directed on the family business.
With unique direction and the correct amount of leeway, Rohrwacher is able to gather good performances from her budding adolescent actors. She’s also able to evolve flat personalities with depth; allowing unpleasant characters to have properly rounded arcs. The Wonders may move at a lumbering crawl, but the film at least shows that Rohrwacher is fair towards her players.
Other than these prime points, The Wonders is a typical coming-of-age tale about a young main character figuring out how to stand on their own feet. So, that by the end, that character can have that moment of Zen where they reflect and stare off into the future. Rohrwacher carefully displays scenes of realism and allows the profound silence to do the emotional heavy lifting, but the resonance doesn’t last.
Two weeks ago, movie goers watched an even lower-key portrayal of this type of material in Stop the Pounding Heart. Roberto Minervini’s docudrama was underwhelming, but its presentation was original with how Minervini placed the eavesdropping audience. Because of that, I’ll always remember Stop the Pounding Heart. The Wonders doesn’t have that freshness and, thus, has the audience in a fuzzy scramble to simply remember the film’s title.