Is ‘The Wonder’ Really a Wonder?

Are you looking for a nail-biting thriller? Are you a fan of Florence Pugh? Or maybe you just want an engaging film? 

This film intertwines the stories of multiple characters, focusing on English Nurse, Elizabeth Wright (Florence Pugh) and Irish local, Anna O’Donnell (Kíla Lord Cassidy). Anna seemingly has survived four months without food. To provide somewhat of an explanation, many call it a miracle. This makes the girl an attraction, where she is constantly visited and awed upon.

In hopes of understanding this peculiar case, the town sends for one nurse, Elizabeth Wright, and one nun, Sister Michael (Josie Walker), to monitor the girl through on-the-clock shifts for two weeks. Elizabeth, commonly referred to as “Lib,” forms a strong relationship with the girl due to their time together. Yet, while Anna remains alive, her health is greatly suffering. 

Courtesy of Netflix.

“The Wonder” provides thought-provoking themes and narratives of science vs religion. The movie opens with a female narrator expressing the relevance of storytelling. She requests that the audience keep an open mind as the film unfolds its uncanny tale. It is an intriguing way to begin a movie and awaken the viewer from a common daze of movie watching — making them alert and puzzled. 

The theme between science and religion proposes a very complex idea. Coming from a very religious community, the state of Anna and her lifestyle are seen as miraculous and holy. Yet those who prioritize science see circumstances of Anna as self-abuse and in need of immediate assistance. This theme effectively gripped the audience’s attention, making them question where you draw the line between biology and faith. 

In performing such a complex film, Florence Pugh and Kíla Lord Cassidy work superbly in both their stand-alone and together scenes. They truly draw off one another’s energy in creating a dramatic and thrilling piece. The two characters come from their own loss and traumatic backgrounds and display their chilling coping mechanisms with such fluidity. The casting of this film aligned with the dynamics of the characters. Pugh, known for her talent in historical pieces, such as “Little Women,” as well as thrillers, including “Don’t Worry Darling,” have made her a perfect match for “The Wonder.” On the other hand, Cassidy’s skills flourished regardless of age and experience! She has surely locked in a future successful career in the world of acting. Overall, it is another stunning performance by Florence Pugh and a memorable one by Kíla Lord Cassidy.

Courtesy of Netflix.

You can see one of Florence Pugh and Kíla Lord Cassidy’s wonderful performances early in the film. As the two characters get to understand each other, they exchange an interesting conversation. Lib is actively trying to uncover if Anna has stored food somewhere that she eats when no one is watching. While doing so, Anna lays out on her floor, looking over her saint cards. She begins to tell Lib about some of the saints and what they stand for. It then leads into a conversation about who can be “chosen.” The actors perform a simple but tender and earnest conversation. Pugh and Cassidy fully immerse themselves into the characters as viewers can feel each emotion they portray. 

Decorating the movie are the setting and additional effects. This story takes place in the Irish countryside around 1860. Correlatively, the film shows the hardly touched beauty and tranquility of Ireland. Despite there being catastrophe in the storyline, the Irish meadows complement the thrilling tone for viewers with a sense of peace. 

To convey a stronger haunting sense of the turmoil-filled events, “The Wonder” includes eerie background music. These back-and-forth tones are similar to the tik-tok of a clock. The brilliant symbolism behind this choice goes to show the different references in time including the window that Lib watches Anna, the numbered days Anna has, and many more. 

All in all, if you were hesitating to watch “The Wonder,” debate no further! “The Wonder” is indeed a thought-provoking, heart-racing and jaw-dropping film.

“The Wonder” is available on Netflix.

By Charley Lustig

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