The Best Florence Pugh Movie of the Year Is Now on Netflix
Florence Pugh is always busy and for good reason: She’s fantastic. And while she will have three movies out by the end of 2022, the one that showcases her brilliance is The Wonder. The Netflix movie takes us back in time with a framing device from director Sebastián Lelio (who co-wrote the movie with Alice Birch) that shows the backstage of the studio and takes us into the story of Lib Wright (Pugh) going to be a nurse to a young girl named Anna O’Donnell (Kíla Lord Cassidy).
The synopsis for The Wonder is as follows: “The Irish Midlands, 1862 – a young girl stops eating but remains miraculously alive and well. English nurse Lib Wright is brought to a tiny village to observe eleven-year old Anna O’Donnell. Tourists and pilgrims mass to witness the girl who is said to have survived without food for months. Is the village harbouring a saint ‘surviving on manna from heaven’ or are there more ominous motives at work? A psychological thriller inspired by the 19th century phenomenon of the “fasting girls” and adapted from the acclaimed novel by Emma Donoghue (Room).”
What stands out about The Wonder than a film like Don’t Worry Darling, which I enjoyed, is that The Wonder isn’t about a woman’s mental health being used against her. If anything, it is her intelligence and willingness to find the truth that those around her want to challenge and it makes for a quiet yet power performance from Pugh that is the opposite of her work in things like Midsommar and even Black Widow which are a bit more bombastic in their approach.
The fear of faith
The Wonder focuses its time on Anna’s lack of food intake and how it is making her a “miracle” because she’s been alive for four months without eating it. For Lib, she’s determined to prove that the child is getting her resources from somewhere else and the lack of eating is just an illusion because there’s no way she can still be alive.
What it boils down to though is a sea of religious men making decisions for Anna without looking at the medical truth that is staring them in the face. They’d rather let a young girl die to say that for four months lived as a miracle instead of looking into what was happening and who was responsible for it. The movie highlights how belief can destroy someone and a character like Lib, who is trapped by society into doing what the men in charge tell her to do, really highlights the fear that so many of us have of our own society and the men making the decisions.
It was a stellar performance by Pugh but the movie as a whole is a quiet attack on you and when you realize what is happening, you’re stuck just in awe of how the writing of Alice Birch and the direction of Sebastián Lelio got us here.
The Wonder is on Netflix now and reminds us just how good Florence Pugh is.
(featured image: Netflix)
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