CANNES, France, May 19: Cutting between black and white and colour, silent and talkie, “Wonderstruck” was warmly received at Cannes on Thursday where it is already hotly tipped for awards.
Following on from “Carol”, which competed at the film festival two years ago, director Todd Haynes once again gives viewers an evocative vision of period New York – or in this case two: one in the 1920s and one in the 1970s.
A bleary-eyed audience at the 8.30am screening gave the movie hearty applause, enjoying its intertwined storylines, one of which plays as a black and white silent movie of the period, the other bathed in the warm colours of 1970s American movies.
“It was an intensely cinematic idea on the page,” Haynes said of the script by Brian Selznick, based on his own book.
Selznick was also the author of “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”, a part novel, part picture book that Martin Scorsese turned into “Hugo”.
He used the same technique for “Wonderstruck”, which tells the two stories – that eventually meet – of a deaf girl and boy who run away from their troubled homes.
“For a filmmaker it was an irresistible piece of material,” Haynes told a news conference.
Julianne Moore, whose first leading movie role was in Haynes’ “Safe” in 1995, plays two characters: a 1920s silent movie star who is the neglectful mother of her deaf daughter Rose, and, in the 1970s, Rose herself in her dotage.
Her two parts, one in which she can talk, but is in a silent film and therefore unheard, and the other in which she communicates only in sign language, is at the heart of the film.
“It boiled down to how we communicate and what language is and how we effectively use, our bodies, our hands, our selves, without spoken English,” she said.
Hollywood Reporter called “Wonderstruck” “a genuinely affecting story of children and family that doubles as a work of fabulous cinematic artifice”.
Variety said that, for all its attributes, the sum of the movie’s parts was that it did not quite make a great film.
“‘Wonderstruck’ is a movie that literally tries to add up, piece by piece, into a fully assembled puzzle of greatness, but the puzzle is less than transporting because you can still see all the seams.”
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)