Film review: Wonderstruck (4 out of 5 stars)

Millicent Simmonds in Wonderstruck
Millicent Simmonds in Wonderstruck

There have been few (if any) films in recent years looking seriously at deaf people and the difficulties they can face.

But all of a sudden we have three movies recently in which deafness is integral to the story.

The quite superb The Silent Child quite rightly won an Oscar and A Quiet Place is doing great business at the box office.

The link between that latter film and Wonderstruck is young Millicent Simmonds (deaf since infancy) who is a quite amazing actor.

She has the ability to convey a range of emotions in a natural and mature way.

Director Tod Haynes’ movie is beautifully shot and is really a simple tale, but we are taken on a twisting and circuitous route to get to the denouement.

The plot interweaves between two time periods.

In 1927 (shot in black and white) Simmonds plays Rose who leaves her unpleasant father to go to New York and find her famous actress mother who abandoned her.

And there’s an amazingly lifelike 1977 in which Ben (Oakes Fegley), who loses his hearing and whose mother has died, travels to New York to seek out the father he’s never known.

The two stories seem very separate, but twists and turns make it an emotional final few minutes.

The strength of Simmonds also creates the film’s downside; the fact that Fegley and some of the other 1977 period actors aren’t quite up to her high level.

Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams add the expertise for the 70s section but there’s still a noticeable imbalance.

However, it’s a delightful tale treated with care and compassion and well worth a watch.

And keep an eye out for Millicent Simmonds, she’s a natural.

Film details: Wonderstruck (PG) 116mins

Director: Tod Haynes

Starring: Millicent Simmonds, Oakes Fegley, Julianne Moore

Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol