Get ready for a new branch in "The Tree of Life" debate.
Magnolia Pictures said Friday morning it had acquired "To the Wonder," Terrence Malick's follow-up to 'Tree," and will release it theatrically next year. The move concludes a month-long period in which distributors had vacillated on a picture that had divided audiences at the Venice and Toronto International Film festivals.
Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles called "Wonder" a "romantic, haunting and beautiful film that will be endlessly rewarding for movie lovers."
Starring Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko and Rachel McAdams, the film tells a largely wordless story of a love affair's origins and undoing. The Oklahoman Neil (Affleck) and Parisian Marina (Kurylenko) begin a passionate affair while Neil is visiting France, then continue it back in his home state. But the bloom soon fades under the glare of time and infidelity.
While the story is linear, much of it is conveyed via images and music rather than conventional dialog, leading to bemusement and pans from some filmgoers; others argued that it was a lyrical meditation on love and spirituality.
Distributors were divided too. Fox Searchlight, which turned "Tree" into an art-house event, was believed to be more ambivalent on the picture, while distributor IFC was thought interested.
Whether "Wonder" will be received as well as "Tree"--which grossed $13 million in the U.S. and was nominated for best picture--remains to be seen. Though there are stylistic and other similarities, that movie swept into theaters after years of anticipation and a buzzed-about Cannes Film Festival premiere.
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