Magazine article Screen International

'Wonderstruck': Cannes Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Wonderstruck': Cannes Review

Article excerpt

Todd Haynes' follow-up to Carol is an 'idiosyncratic charmer'

Dir. Todd Haynes. US. 2017. 117 mins.

Todd Haynes' peerless world-building skills are exploited to their full extent with this beguiling semi-silent film adaptation the young adult novel by Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret). Haynes might initially seem an ungainly fit for a pair of parallel stories about deaf children, potentially aimed at a family audience. But as an innovative filmmaker who naturally chimes with the perspective of the outsider looking in, Haynes takes a semi-graphic novel which comes with a strong visual identity, and makes it very much his own. While some might question the key role that serendipity plays in this story, more will respond to the immaculate period work, the engaged approach to disability and the gradual swell of emotion which builds to a belter of a tear jerking climax.

Audiences hoping for a Todd Haynes movie will not be disappointed

Although Selznick's book features child protagonists, and was initially aimed at a younger audience, it connected with readers of all ages. You sense that Haynes is aiming to pull off the same trick here. He has not moderated his approach, nor does he talk down to the younger members of his potential audience. The emotional intelligence at play here is every bit as sophisticated as that in any of his other films. Whether this will help the film's prospects or hinder them with the book's YA fanbase remains to be seen.

One thing is for certain: audiences hoping for a Todd Haynes movie will not be disappointed. First rate work from cinematographer Edward Lachman, costume designer (and executive producer) Sandy Powell, production designer Mark Friedberg and - particularly - composer Carter Burwell should ensure that the film is a significant awards season contender.

Selznick's story, which he adapted himself, traces mirror image journeys of two children, fifty years apart. Rose (impressive hearing-impaired newcomer Millicent Simmonds), deaf from birth, sets out from the stifling constraints of the home she shares with her father in 1927 Hoboken. In 1977, Ben (Oakes Fegley, excellent) skips out from the hospital in Gunflint, Minnesota where he is recovering from the freak accident which cost him his hearing. The destination of both children is New York.

While in the book, Rose's storyline is told entirely with pictures, the film uses the language of silent cinema. Rose's adventure unfolds in crisp black and white, with scrawled messages on note pads standing in for intertitles. …

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