Terrence Malick‘s To The Wonder will have its world premiere screening at the Venice Film Festival on Sunday, September 2nd, at 7:30 pm. The Toronto Star‘s Pete Howell has kindly forwarded the synopses and notes from the Venice Film Festival as well as the Toronto Film Festival, where Malick’s film will also screen. It seems evident that the basic plot bones of To The Wonder are at least partly based on Malick’s own personal history, which is ironic given his mania for privacy.
Neil (Ben Affleck) and Jane (Rachel McAdams) appear to be at least superficially based on Terrence Malick and his wife, Alexandra “Ecky” Wallace.
“After visiting Mont Saint-Michel — once known in France as the Wonder — at the height of their love, Marina (Olga Kurylenko) and Neil (Ben Affleck) come to Oklahoma, where problems soon arise,” the Venice synopsis reads. “Marina makes the acquaintance of a priest and fellow exile (Javier Bardem), who is struggling with his vocation, while Neil renews his ties with a childhood friend, Jane (Rachel McAdams). An exploration of love in its many forms.”
I’ve heard or read bits and pieces over the years, but a 5.21.11 “The Search” document by Brett McCracken called “39 Facts About Terrence Malick” reports that in the early 80s, Malick, raised in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, fell for Michele Morette, “a Parisienne who lived in his building in Paris and who had a daughter, Alex. After a few years the three of them moved to Austin, Texas. Malick married Michele in 1985, but they divorced in 1998.” That same year, McCracken writes, “Malick married Alexandra ‘Ecky’ Wallace, an alleged high school sweetheart from his days at St. Stephen’s school in Austin, Texas. They are still married and currently reside in Austin, Texas. Ecky Wallace is the mother of actor Will Wallace, who appears in The Thin Red Line, The New World and The Tree of Life.”
Are you going to stand there and tell me that Neil (Affleck) isn’t Malick, Marina (Kurylenko) isn’t Michele and Jane (McAdams) isn’t Ecky?
As for the Toronto Film Festival, Howell informs that info “is actually taken from the excellent TOfilmfest.ca site, not affiliated with TIFF, which combines all available info about films and is actually more complete than TIFF’s own site”:
To The Wonder / Director: Terrence Malick / Cast: Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams, Amanda Peet, Barry Pepper, Michael Sheen, Rachel Weisz
“New film from Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life), about a man who reconnects with a woman from his hometown after his marriage to a European woman falls apart. Venice Film Festival director Alberto Barbera has revealed some new details regarding the film’s themes. ‘The main recurring theme is the crisis — the economic crisis, which is having devastating social effects, but also the crisis of values, the political crisis.”
What? You’d have to be an idiot not to recognize that To The Wonder is at least a partly autobiographical tale, and yet Barbera’s assessment is that the film is thematically concerned with the socio-economic criss that began in 2008?
What’s with Malick’s decision to offer only that one lonely photo of Affleck and McAdams, which was first circulated on 2.23.11?
It was reported on 5.15.12 that Malick’s film, previously called The Burial, had been given an R rating for “some sexuality/nudity.”
The Venice notes say that “actors Olga Kurylenko, Javier Bardem (TBC) and Romina Mondello will be in Venice to present the film.” Will Malick pull a sneak visit with shades and a hat on, watching silently from the sidelines?