Love him or loathe him? Malick film splits Venice

Sun Sep 2, 2012 12:42pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

VENICE (Reuters) - Terrence Malick divides opinion like almost no other director working today, and "To the Wonder", his impressionistic and virtually dialogue-free story of love and faith, was booed as loudly as it was cheered at the Venice film festival on Sunday.

The movie is the reclusive American director's second in two years, after "The Tree of Life" won the Palme d'Or for best picture at the 2011 Cannes film festival.

To the Wonder is competing for the equivalent prize in Venice, the Golden Lion, as one of 18 main competition entries, although if it emerges victorious at the closing ceremony on Saturday it would be a major surprise.

The publicity-shy Malick was not in Venice to promote his movie ahead of its red carpet world premiere, but more surprisingly the only lead actor in Italy for interviews and photoshoots was Olga Kurylenko.

Co-stars Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams and Javier Bardem did not make the trip, adding to a sense of anti-climax surrounding one of the most eagerly-anticipated titles of the festival.

To the Wonder centers around Affleck and Kurylenko, the Ukraine-born actress until now best known as Camille in Bond film "Quantum of Solace", as a couple deeply in love yet unable to live together.

She leaves Paris for a small town in the United States, and after struggling to adapt to her new life, decides to return to France. Affleck's character has an affair with an old friend, played by McAdams, before his first flame returns.

Spanish actor Bardem appears as a troubled priest facing a crisis of faith, extending the plot into the realm of the spiritual from the physical and emotional.   Continued...