Period dramas are big business. With the recent adaptations of Persuasion, Rebecca and the upcoming Lady Chatterley's Lover, fans of the genre are being well taken care of. And now we can add The Wonder to the list.
Directed by Sebastián Lelio, The Wonder is based on the 2016 book by Emma Donoghue (Room). She also co-wrote the screenplay for the film with Alice Birch and Lelio.
Boasting an all-star cast that includes Florence Pugh, Tom Burke, Brían F. O'Byrne, Kíla Lord Cassidy, Toby Jones, and Ciarán Hinds, The Wonder is a great film, but what is it about?
What Is The Wonder About?
The premise for this movie is simple. It's Ireland in 1862, 13 years after the Great Famine.
Anna O’Donnell (Kíla Lord Cassidy) is a young girl who claims not to have eaten for four months, though remains miraculously alive. Allegedly she is surviving on “manna from heaven”.
An English nurse, Lib Wright (Florence Pugh), is called to the Irish Midlands by a committee of priests and higher-ups to be an expert witness.
The devout community want her to conduct a 15-day examination of Anna, convinced that a miracle is unfolding before their eyes.
Lib must watch over Anna to ensure that she is not hiding food, changing shifts every eight hours with a nun so that their mission is covered by both faith and medicine.
Anna's story is getting more and more attention with journalist and sceptic William Byrne (Tom Burke) in the area to cover the story for the English press.
So what is the truth? Is she really a miracle, or is it all a con? Lib is determined to get to the truth. But challenging the faith of a community that would prefer to stay believing will not be easy.
To unlock this mystery, Lib is going to have to gain Anna’s confidence and discover the child’s own awful secret.
The Wonder Official Trailer
The Wonder Release Date
The Wonder had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2022, followed by a screening at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.
Clearly a big contender for the upcoming awards season, it was and was released in select cinemas on November 2, 2022.
Its scheduled streaming release is on November 16, 2022, on Netflix.
Is The Wonder Worth Watching?
The Wonder is a haunting movie that is as much a thriller and a mystery as it is a period drama.
Florence Pugh excels and, for the vast majority of the time, carries this film. However, it has to be said that the supporting cast, especially Kíla Lord Cassidy as Anna O'Donnell, is superb.
One of my personal favourite movies is Lady Macbeth (2016) which also starred Florence Pugh and was also written by Alice Birch. Their second collaboration in The Wonder is once again a triumph.
It is a movie that is a feast for the eyes and the brain as you get pulled into the mystery of how a young girl stops eating but remains miraculously alive.
It is an eerily tense psychological drama that shines a light on faith, or the lack of it and all with a ticking clock that ramps up the tension, keeping you glued to the story.
Florence Pugh's remarkable performance should earn her many award nominations and even a few statuettes to grace her bookshelves.
The Wonder Cast Members
Florence Pugh as Lib Wright, an English nurse brought to Ireland to observe eleven year old Anna O'Donnell
Tom Burke as William Byrne, a journalist from The Telegraph, writing a story about Anna's fasting.
Kíla Lord Cassidy as Anna O'Donnell
Elaine Cassidy as Rosaleen O'Donnell, Anna's mother
Caolán Byrne as Malachy O' Donnell, Anna's father
Niamh Algar as Kitty
Toby Jones as Dr. McBrearty
Brían F. O'Byrne as John Flynn
David Wilmot as Seán Ryan
Josie Walker as Sister Michael