Wonderstruck packs 2 movies into 1
Movies Narratives of a pair of deaf kids take place 50 years apart Weekend, October 27-29, 2017
Acclaimed filmmaker Todd Haynes has followed up his Oscar-nominated 1950s-era lesbian love story Carol with an unusual choice — an adaptation of a hit young-adult graphic novel about two kids lost in New York City.
“I didn’t find it to be such a deviation from things I’ve explored in films,” explained the director about his latest drama Wonderstruck. “It just happens to be about younger characters and something younger audiences can enjoy with their folks or on their own — but I did love the dual time period.”
That duality is what helps make Wonderstruck stand out from other family films today. Always one to bust genres, Haynes certainly breaks a few more this time around — beginning with the fact that Wonderstruck is actually two movies in one.
Unspooling separate narratives of a pair of deaf kids searching for mysterious connections in Manhattan half a century apart, one of Wonderstruck’s tales allowed Haynes to shoot the 1927-set story as a silent black and white film.
“It was fun and it was fun to be asked to do the assignment,” admitted Haynes, who’s homework included scouring rare silent cinematic classics for research. However, even diving into the bygone era of silent cinema seemed oddly familiar to the director behind such adult art-house favorites as Velvet Goldmine and I’m Not There.
“I think all my films sort of test how little needs to be said in any scene; just let things happen outside of speech (and) make those cinematic moments as rich as can be and that was just built into the concept of Wonderstruck.”
Perhaps the greatest challenge for Haynes was capturing the authentic deaf experience of his characters without focusing on hearing loss as the main plot point. He cast several deaf actors including Millicent Simmonds — one of his young leads — to help inform real-life deaf-culture.
“We were trying to do a lot of different things that aren’t done all the time and explore this community with as much sensitivity as possible,” said Haynes. “It was just great to have them all taking part in the film with translating going on constantly, signing and the language all around us — it just made for the environment on-set really different from any movie I’ve ever made.”
Jaden Michael, Oakes Fegley and Julianne Moore in wonderstruck.