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Culture

Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck illustrates the power of curiosity

media Screening of the film "Wonderstruck" in competition on May 18th, 2017 Reuters/Stephane Mahe

Thursday evening's gala première at the Cannes Film Festival was Wonderstruck. Todd Haynes directed actresses Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams, along with the two teenage roles, played by Oakes Fegley and Jaiden Michael.

The film’s title, Wonderstruck, is taken from the name of a cloth-bound book on early museum collections where much of the action takes place.

With the focus on children, it is full of imagination. It is a sweet story, adapted for the screen by the author of the novel, Brian Selznick. Silence is a character, and sign language or note-pad communication is natural.

The lead is played convincingly by a junior actor called Oakes Fegley who stars in the role of an orphaned 12 year-old Ben, who loses his hearing when lightning strikes as he is dialing on the phone. The films is full of symbols.

It is hard not to compare Wonderstruck with Carol, the film Haynes made two years ago. This one is less glam but just as attentive to colour and tonal harmony.

Like Carol, which was situated in the 1950s, Wonderstruck also goes back in time in New York as well as in New Jersey.

Haynes flits back and forth from the 1920s and 1970, from black and white to strong colour. The elegant star this time is Julianne Moore, with Michelle Willams.

Given the childrens’ roles and the story itself as well as Haynes telling of it, this is one for all ages, and that already makes it stand out at the Cannes Film Festival.
 

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