There were a couple of weeks late last year when every time I turned on Netflix, it seemed like Florence Pugh was talking to me as her character from THE WONDER, tempting me to stream the film. She’s one of my absolute favorite actresses, but there never seemed to be a moment I was in the mood for a serious 19th Century period piece. This week, I finally acquiesced.
First things first. Pugh, as always, is incredible. At this point in her young life and career, I firmly believe she can do anything – play any role. THE WONDER has an interesting premise that quickly pulled me in – Pugh plays Lib, a young British nurse called to Ireland to observe a girl, Anna, who has supposedly been fasting from all food for four months. Townsfolk think it may be some sort of religious miracle as Anna is devoutly committed to her beliefs and prays regularly.
A lot happens to the characters in THE WONDER, but I left the film wondering what it was really about. The backbone of the film is science vs. faith. Both Lib and Anna have experienced great tragedies in their lives. While Anna believes everything happening is her God’s will, Lib tries to understand the medical science behind it. While watching it, I was reminded that a long-running juxtaposition from the tv show LOST was man of science, Jack, vs. Locke, the main of faith. There it was just one piece of the story, but THE WONDER centers its entire story around it. As we learn more about Lib and Anna’s histories, we’ll see how they use their beliefs to come to very different outcomes on their future. It’s not a satisfying comparison for the story to make though. Lib is an adult, and Anna just a girl, so I can’t believe them as intellectual equals who have just interpreted their traumas differently.
THE WONDER comes to an expected but unearned conclusion. Lib and Anna, plus multiple secondary characters, have been dealt some really awful cards in life. The story puts forth one unrealistic resolution that would surely fall apart had the story continued after the credits rolled. I was disappointed that so much else was just left as it was. As if the writer thought, ‘well life was hard and sad back then, and there’s nothing that could be done about it.’
THE WONDER is streaming on Netflix.