May 29, 2018  (Web Review)

Wonderstruck

Amazon, 117 min., PG, DVD: $17.99, Blu-ray: $17.99, May 22

Reviewer rating: 3.5/4

Beginning with a famous Oscar Wilde quote—“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”—Wonderstruck tells the captivating story of two curious 12-year-olds living a half-century apart, who run away to New York City, seeking answers to elusive questions about their past. In 1927 in Hoboken, NJ, lonely Rose (Milllicent Simmonds) lives with her strict father (James Urbaniak). She’s deaf, and her greatest joy is watching silent-screen idol, Lillian Mayhew (Julianne Moore), who Rose thinks is her mother. Her story is evocatively told in stylized black-and-white with no spoken dialogue. In 1977 in Gunflint Lake, MN (in vibrant color), Ben (Oakes Fegley) is mourning the death of his librarian single mother, Elaine (Michelle Williams), when he discovers an old bookmark with the note, “Elaine, I’ll wait for you. Love, Danny.” Just then, he is struck by lightning, which leaves him deaf but still determined to find the man who may be his father. As the puzzling plot unfolds, the two children’s parallel lives will eventually intersect. Based on the 2011 graphic novel by Brian Selznick, director Todd Haynes’s film cleverly cuts between Rose and Ben, who are each on a mission that they are unable to articulate. Highly recommended. (S. Granger)