Bless you, Todd Haynes, for once again giving me all the feels.
Wonderstruck, Haynes' latest picture, is a real triumph, an absorbing, expertly written and directed and ultimately devastating effort that is sure to resonate with adults and children alike. It is his most poignant and satisfying piece since Far from Heaven, a film I wouldn't hesitate for a second to include on a list of the 100 or so finest pictures to ever grace the screen.
While Wonderstruck isn't quite a masterpiece on the sky-high level of that 2002 film, this is still Haynes operating at or near top of his game. It's one of the year's very best pictures.
Based on the 2011 Brian Selznick novel (Selznick also penned the screenplay here), Wonderstruck traces the journeys of two children, Rose (Millicent Simmonds) and Ben (Oakes Fegley), to New York City. Both have immense longing for greater fulfillment in their lives. They are also both deaf.
Rose's quest to the Big Apple takes place in the black-and-white 1920s. She ventures from her dictatorial father's New Jersey home to track down her idol, the silent screen actress Lillian Mayhew (Julianne Moore), who is now doing a stint in theater. Ben, on the other hand, makes the leap all the way from Minnesota, circa 1977. His mother (Michelle Williams) having recently died, he is in search of his father, who might be connected to a book store in the city.
Over time, of course, we come to see great parallels between these two excursions and Haynes does a remarkable job smoothly switching back and forth between the two stories. His heart is clearly so in this and Simmonds and Fegley, both splendid and completely convincing, are right on the same page with him.
Moore all but steals the final half hour of the picture and that wonderful actor Cory Michael Smith, who was so startling in Olive Kittredge a few years back, makes a memorable, if too brief appearance as well. Jaden Michael is also a real find as Jamie, a lonely boy from Queens who befriends Ben.
Per usual, Edward Lachman's cinematography is right on the money and better be on everyone's shortlist in that category come Oscar time. Kudos too to composer Carter Burwell, whose music especially comes to life in the Rose sections of the picture.
Wonderstruck is a beautiful and soulful film that I cannot wait to revisit.