Review of The Wonder: Florence Pugh’s commanding performance drives this compelling period drama

With a plot that makes you doubt both science and faith, The Wonder, starring Florence Pugh, transports us to Ireland in the 19th century. See the review from Pinkvilla below.

The Wonder follows Lib Wright, an English nurse who travels to a distant Irish hamlet, who plays Florence Pugh. The movie, which is based on Emma Donoghue’s book of the same name, is set in the 19th century and introduces us to Lib as a nurse who has been asked to investigate the mysterious illness of 11-year-old Anna O’Donnell (Kla Lord Cassidy), who hasn’t eaten in several months but still appears to be in excellent health. The infant is being watched by Lib and a nun alternately in order to understand more about her intriguing condition. Dr. McBrearty instructs Lib to provide nursing care for Anna (Tony Jones). Lib finds herself in a pickle as a result of the conflict between the spiritual and the scientific explanations of Anna’s condition. We’ll have to wait and see if Lib learns the truth about Anna’s health and what will become of the amazing girl.
Opinion: The Wonder has a peculiar beginning since it introduces a behind-the-scenes element that serves as a reminder that stories are constructed artificially. Without any of the technology components, the 19th century still had the capacity to concoct fantastic stories based on faith. Just think of cinema itself as a mechanism designed to fool you into believing things. Through the characters of Lib, a nurse who participated in the war, experienced the death of a kid, and is certain that no miraculous child can live four months without sustenance, the movie contrasts medical knowledge with religious belief. The church is on the opposite side and wants to view Anna as a saint of their time, a gift. Given that Lib’s observations go unheeded by a council of men who wish to demote her to the position of observer rather than a nurse, both systems—science and religion—appears to be failing the two women. The church is also failing Anna, who is led to think that although her death may come sooner, it will only bring about salvation.

The sadness they both experienced at their deaths binds Lib (Pugh) and Anna (Kla Lord Cassidy). It’s interesting that the movie instead focuses on the nurse, even though one may have assumed that the movie would keep to the plot and focus on discovering why Anna survived despite not eating. The film may be called The Wonder, but it isn’t really Anna’s narrative; rather, it is Lib’s journey of gaining the courage to keep her pledge and the tenacity to save Anna, even if it takes using wondrous methods. Even if the writing at times looks disjointed, there is something seductive about the way this narrative is conveyed that keeps you interested the entire time. The eerie soundtrack by Matthew Herbert combined with the psychodramatic approach that makes use of lighting and close-ups to give you an uneasy sensation mostly succeeds. There is some confusion brought on by the insertion of a scene with Kitty (Niamh Algar), who breaches the fourth wall and reminds us of the note on which the movie began, but it just acts as a plot device to keep the audience’s interest.

Regarding the performances, Florence Pugh as Lib paints a hauntingly beautiful picture of a mother coping with the death of her kid, trying to live in a foreign land while feeling sadness and loneliness, and the empathic link she begins to establish with Anna while working as her nurse. Even in the pauses, Pugh masterfully conjures. In her role as Anna, Kla Lord Cassidy excels. After she starts confiding in Pugh’s Lib in the second act, Cassidy particularly excels. In terms of supporting roles, Tom Burke, who plays a journalist, and Tony Jones both provide good performances.

Plus Points: Sebastián Lelio’s directing creates a lasting impression as he transports us to a 19th-century Ireland that is still suffering from the effects of hunger. As you peel back the layers of the story, which may start out as a straightforward inquiry about Anna’s survival but eventually delves into darker themes that make social commentary on the timeline and the age-old struggle between spiritual and scientific ideals, the movie’s eerie atmosphere comes into its own. Together with the music, the performers create a tale that is fascinating enough for the ideal length.

A few loose ends in The Wonder remain unresolved, despite the fact that it has a lot of levels to explore. The movie leaves clues and traces rather than explicitly explaining everything, so if you’re expecting for a plot that spells everything out, you could find this to be a challenging watch.

Highlights:
The excellent performance by Florence Pugh
The melancholy music of Matthew Herbert
Sebastián Lelio took a leisurely direction.
The Wonder is a movie that will cause you to reflect on your life while you watch it. A compelling tale and excellent acting are both included in the movie, which will have you watching until the very end.

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