Wonderstruck (2017): Todd Haynes’ Children Fable

Directed by Todd Haynes, Wonderstruck is based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Brian Selznick, who adapted his book into screenplay.

The film stars Oakes Fegley, Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams and Millicent Simmonds.

Scheduled to premiere at the 2017 Cannes Film Fest, in the main competition, the film will be released in the U.S. October 20 by Roadside Attractions and Amazon Studios.

There are two time frames in the tale, 1927 and 1977. In the earlier era, Rose (Millicent Simmonds) runs away from her New Jersey home to find her idol Lillian Mayhew (Julianne Moore).

In the later frame, Ben (Fegley) also runs away to New York after his mother’s death in search of his missing father.

Haynes’s regular collaborator, Christine Vachon, is producing under her Killer Films banner, with partner Pamela Koffler and John Sloss

Millicent Simmonds, a deaf actor, who’s 13, plays Rose, whose half of Wonderstruck will be presented as a silent film in both a nod to movie history and aesthetic to reflect her unique perspective.

This section involves many deaf actors in roles that would normally go to hearing actors.

Principal photography began on May 4, 2016 in Peekskill, New York, and concluded July 3.

Cast

Oakes Fegley as Ben
Julianne Moore as Lillian Mayhew/Older Rose
Michelle Williams as Elaine
Millicent Simmonds as Rose
Amy Hargreaves as Aunt Jenny
Morgan Turner as Janet
Jaden Michael as Jamie
Cory Michael Smith as Walter
Tom Noonan as Older Walter
James Urbaniak
Anthony Natale as Dr. Gill

Note:

Todd Haynes is one of the five subjects of my new book, Gay Directors/Gay Films (Columbia University Press, 2016).

Gay Directors, Gay Films?

Emanuel Levy. Columbia Univ., $35 (392p) ISBN 978-0-231-15276-1

In this comparative study of the lives and work of five openly gay present-day filmmakers, film historian and critic Levy (All About Oscar) asserts that the directors and their work have relevance outside the niche of gay cinema. Though similar in many ways, they are a diverse group, and Levy’s characterizations of them in chapter titles are spot-on. Pedro Almodóvar (“Spain’s Enfant Terrible”) is given the most in-depth treatment as Levy traces his development from an early “flamboyant bad boy” attitude through mid-career masterpieces to his recent, more idiosyncratic films. Britain’s Terence Davies (“Subjective Memoirist”) is known for adaptations of classics such as Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. Todd Haynes (“Deconstructive Queer Cinema”) consistently plays against audience expectations, and whose films tend to have a gay sensibility without overtly tackling gay subject matter. Gus Van Sant (“Poet of Lost and Alienated Youth”) has had successful forays into the mainstream with films like Good Will Hunting, but remains primarily an auteur with an outsider’s perspective. Finally, John Waters (“Queer as Trash and Camp”) began his career as a purveyor of self-declared bad taste, but his later films have a core of sweetness. Levy’s prose leans toward the pedantic, but his treatment of his subjects is comprehensive, and his passion always shines through. A helpful filmography concludes each chapter, and there is an extensive bibliography. This book is well-suited for the cinematic omnivore and the armchair aesthete. (Aug.)