In the drama “The Wonder”, Florence Pugh investigates an alleged miracle in 19th century Ireland. A film with which the actress shines again in a complex role.
The Wonder : miracle or deception?
After A fantastic woman, Disobedience and Gloria Belldirector Sebastián Lelio is back with The Wonder. A drama adapted from the eponymous novel by Emma Donoghue which, from its strange opening in a film studio, challenges the viewer to the power of stories and faith, and asks them to believe in the story they are on the point to tell. Set in 1862 in Ireland, ten years after the Great Famine, the film begins with the arrival of nurse Lib Wright (Florence Pugh) in a small village.
Residents rejoice thata little girl named Anna (Kíla Lord Cassidy) survive without eating for many months. An improvised committee composed in particular of a monk and a doctor asks the heroine as well as a nun to make a report. Most of its members are convinced, or at least have no trouble convincing themselves, that it is a miracle and that the little girl is chosen by God.
Lib does everything to reason with them and warns Anna’s family about the danger of death for the childwhich is getting weaker day by day. The Wonder therefore questions the limits of belief and dogmatic confinement. Over the course of the film, the investigation thus becomes less important than the relationship that the people of the village have with the little girl, not hesitating to let her perish in order to cling to the illusion that they are witnessing a sacred event.
A new big role for Florence Pugh
Tom Burke, Niamh Algar, David Wilmot, Ruth Bradley, Toby Jones and Ciarán Hinds complete the cast of the feature film. But The Wonder bets above all on the presence of Florence Pugh. After The Young Lady, Midsommar and the recent Don’t Worry Darlingthe actress finds a new complex role with this isolated character within a community that refuses to listen to her.
When the ghosts and pains of his past collide with his desire to save a child seen only as an object of worship, the story takes a touching turn. A suspense is then set up and until the end, the spectator wonders if the power of the action will be able to exceed that of the convictions. Asked by IndieWire, Florence Pugh explains that the difficulty was to show the gap between Lib and the community she integrates, without openly displaying her contempt for religious conventions. She adds :
Lib is an incredibly realistic and open-minded character. (…) It was difficult to find this balance. His rejection instinct had to be discreet, which was tricky for me.
The Wonder is to be discovered on Netflix from November 16, 2022.