November 28th, 2022

The Wonder: Florence Pugh has been busy. Already this year she was in the Olivia Wilde release with Harry Styles entitled Don’t Worry Darling. The 26 yo English actress was brought initially to my attention in her role in the bizarre psycho-drama Midsommar back in 2019. This Netflix release is a period piece set in 19th Century Ireland, with Pugh playing an English nurse being asked to observe a young girl who is said to have not eaten anything for three months. The scene is set for these two strangers.

As a nurse, when first told the tale of this young girl, she doesn’t believe it. Arriving in the town, there is a religious leader as well as a local doctor who direct her only to observe for a fortnight. The locals are looking for independent verification of what is happening in the town. The local people have already started to visit the young girl at her remote farmhouse thinking that something very spiritial is happening. We learn over time that there is a desire for this to be true. The family of the young girl had a boy who died earlier at a young age. The Mom is very determined that her children will go to heaven. Our nurse prefers to deal with science rather than religion.

Our nurse meets up with a reporter played by Tom Burke who is looking to write a story debunking the whole situation. To him, the girl is lying and the family is somehow finding a way to get nourishment into the girl. He wants the nurse to assist him. Things happen slowly. Predictably with the nurse watching the girl’s health deteriorates. Our nurse has her own reasons to ensure that her life isn’t for nothing. The solution to the problem is an interesting one.

I like Pugh. I think that she plays authentic and genuine characters. She seems to get put into situations in her films to date that have her character observe strange occurences and she needs to put them together. This is the most realistic situation and the most sad with a very young girl who has been led to put her own life on the line for those around her with obvious competing interests that have their own motivations. The Academy may like this movie more than the movie-going public. For me as someone who isn’t religious at all, I don’t see why anyone would be looking to sacrifice themselves for the sake of an unknown after-life. I certainly have no idea why a parent would be looking to carry on these attitudes at all.

The Time Traveller’s Wife: Back in 2009, Rachel McAdams starred with Eric Bana in an adaption of the Audrey Niffenegger book. It was okay. The story is a curious one with a man who is a time traveller, which means that suddenly and without warning he can disappear to another time. HBO decided to make this a new series starring Rose Leslie (from Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey – also Kit Harrington’s wife) and Divergent’s Theo James.

Female viewers will enjoy the fact that time travel doesn’t allow clothing to go through, and so the frequent time traveller Theo is buck naked time and again. He has no issue showing off his backside time and again in each episode. So why did this series have to be made? This is six episodes, and so much longer than the 1:48 running time of the original. They seem to be exploring more deeply into the trauma in the life of the young Henry. An event that at whatever age he is, he goes back to time and time again. In this version there are mutliple Henrys that can appear at the same place and the same time. Which would seem to be odd, and certainly flies in the face of what Doc stated in Back to the Future. Time travel provides all sorts of challenges, one of which is that Clare at a very young age learns that Henry has a wife named Clare. She is then fixated on him. You add time by adding the complexity for Henry having a girlfriend when Clare comes onto the scene and announces that she will be his future wife. Odd, really, that he wouldn’t already know this. Clare as a teenager then has an uncomfortable experience in a middle episode where she seeks assistance from an older Henry to avenge her honour.

Do Leslie and James have chemistry? This is crucial of course in a story that wants you to feel that this is a couple that is destined to be together. Maybe moreso than McAdams and Bana. But that isn’t all that difficult. Bana was and is a little too straight laced, showing less emotion than is likely needed for that outward romantic connection. In this instance there are various versions of Henry who can be identified by their haircuts mostly. They are quite poor haircuts which don’t reflect the times in the least. Leslie brings her fiestiest game to the relationship, in her best “you know nothing Jon Snow” way. Maybe that was the point. Clare needs to show more that she is aware of her situation, embraces it, and helps to shape Henry popping in and out of her life. Henry is an angry young man wondering why his defining moment as a young boy is something that he cannot seem to impact. I will continue to watch and see where they take this series. Hard to imagine that there is enough material to deal with a Season 2. But stranger things have happened.