A male nurse is sent to the Irish countryside to monitor a Catholic girl who refuses to eat but is otherwise fine. Chilean director Sebastian Lelio connects cinema, religion and love. His movie is on Netflix wonderland About the power of faith.
wonderland It begins surprisingly freshly for an adaptation of a novel set in the 19th century. Emma Donoghue’s gothic horror story is set in rural Catholic Ireland in the aftermath of the Great Famine. Food spreads in 1862, but the youngest daughter of the O’Donnell family is not eating. However, it’s OK. English nurse Lip Wright was sent to Ireland to watch the girl 12 hours a day. At night you are comforted by a nun. For hours, she stared at Anna, as the girl was called, to catch her eating in secret.
“Hi. This is the beginning. The beginning of a movie called wonderland. Sebastien Lelio’s new movie (Gloria; Una Mujer Fanta; disobedience) does not start in rural Ireland, but rather on a movie set. We’re in a big studio. In the center is a house still under construction. A voice speaks to us. “The people you’ll meet, the characters, believe their stories wholeheartedly.” The camera pans half a turn and we see Florence Poe, dressed in an antique outfit, eating in silence. She’s acting, and we know that, but something changes as the camera gets closer. It’s fake, and we know that too, and yet the movie drags us back to the 19th century. “We are nothing without stories. That is why we invite you to believe in this story.”
wonderland About the power of faith. The mixture of water and wheat is the body of Christ. The girl does not eat or die. Florence Pugh is Lip Wright. “I’m just here to watch,” Lip says over and over. “She’s an actress,” says a journalist (Tom Burke) about the girl. While we are watching the movie, the nurse is looking at the girl. And just as we begin to believe in the miracle of cinema, so does Lipp begin to believe in the miracle of Anna O’Donnell (Kyla Lord Cassidy).
wonderland It is a strong script adaptation that breathes the mood of the novel. The atmosphere is claustrophobic, with characters locked in cramped boxes. Much of the dialogue revolves around the sky, yet the characters are depicted barely above their heads with emphasis on the ground they are standing on. Disturbing music often accompanies the silent scenes. There is something dark about the story, even before it gets really grim. Lelio takes his time to draw the viewer into his world, to create faith in what we see on screen. Only then, slowly but surely, step by step reveals the logic underlying Anna’s miracle.
However feel wonderland Somewhat forced. This has to do with the laborious way the film defines its themes. The confident opening is a clever framing of a story about the transformative power of faith, but the voiceover goes beyond it. Then there’s the gift Anna receives from the journalist: a coin with a bird on one side, a cage on the other, and a piece of string on either side. When you pull on the strings, the coin begins to spin around its axis, making it appear as if the bird is trapped in a cage. Hold the coin, and the bird is free. The coin is spinning, and the bird is trapped. Is the bird free or not? “It’s up to you,” says the journalist.
wonderland It shows that two things can coexist. Science and religion. Fact and fiction. Love and evil. The story can be made up but has real consequences. Lelio shows that the cinema is fake wonderlandbut really.
wonderland Can be seen on Netflix.
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