“To the Wonder” centers on Ben Affleck and French actress Olga Kurylenko, who play a young couple with the typical postings of Malick’s late-career films about people drunk with love: they coo against each other. other and make silly gestures with children’s fantasies, while whispering half-formed pieces of existentialism on erratically edited montages.
When Affleck falls in love with Kurylenko, the two separate unnecessarily. Affleck plays a man without a goal. He works as a sort of environmental engineer, observing the damage caused by industry and urban sprawl to the once pristine plains of Oklahoma. The degradation of nature is part of his disgrace. At one point, Affleck rekindles a romance with an old flame played by Rachel McAdams. The two wander through a field of buffalo, a once abundant species famous for its destruction by human rapacity.
Once you understand Malick’s quirks, they become easier to spot. Despite the beaten territory, the film’s commentary on the emptiness of a rootless life works. The director has three subsequent films, including this one, that are fed up with his fallacies. The audience, meanwhile, was never sure what Malick was up to, so there’s no one left to stand up for him, even if he’s doing something right.