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Starring: Florence Pugh, Tom Burke, Niamh Algar, Josie Walker, Elaine Cassidy, Kíla Lord Cassidy, Toby Jones, Dermot Crowley, Brían F. O’Byrne, Ciarán Hinds
OUR RATING: ★★★★☆
Netflix period mystery drama directed and co-written by Sebastián Lelio. Set in The Irish Midlands in 1862, The Wonder (2022) follows Anna O’Donnell (Kíla Lord Cassidy), a young girl whose Catholic family claim she has eaten nothing since her eleventh birthday. English nurse Lib Wright (Florence Pugh) is brought to the village to observe her, who then end up transforming each other’s lives.
Our Favorite Quotes:'We are nothing without stories.' - Kitty O'Donnell (The Wonder) Click To Tweet
Kitty O’Donnell: This is the beginning. The beginning of a film called The Wonder. The people you are about to meet, the characters, believe in their stories with complete devotion. We are nothing without stories. And so we invite you to believe in this one.
Kitty O’Donnell: It is 1862. We left England, bound for Ireland. The Great Famine still casts a long shadow, and the Irish hold England responsible for that devastation. There sits a nurse. An English nurse, traveling all on her own. And it’s with her, we begin.
Sean Ryan: You’ll be the English nurse.
Lib Wright: Will I?
Sean Ryan: Well, I’m due a nun and a nurse, and you’re not the nun.
Lib Wright: No.
Lib Wright: You’ve been blessed with many daughters, Mrs. Ryan.
Maggie Ryan: Only that one’s mine. The other blessings belonged to the first Mrs. Ryan. I’d call it “tricked”.
Lib Wright: May I ask, gentlemen? No one has told me what precisely is wrong with the girl.
John Flynn: Nothing at all.
Lib Wright: Very well. I shall return to my post in England.
Father Thaddeus: Anna O’Donnell doesn’t eat.
John Flynn: The girl has lived miraculously without food since her 11th birthday.
Sean Ryan: “Miraculously” is not how she’s done it.
Sir Otway: The purpose of the watch is to determine exactly how Anna O’Donnell has survived with no food.
Lib Wright: So you want us to watch her?
Sir Otway: Yes.
Lib Wright: How long exactly has it been since the last time the girl ate?
Dr. McBrearty: Four months.
Lib Wright: That’s impossible.
Lib Wright: [referring to Anna] And I assume she’s bedridden?
Dr. McBrearty: Better not to assume.
Visitor: [referring to Anna] She’s a jewel. A wonder.
Lib Wright: You seem well, Anna. Are you nervous at all?
Anna O’Donnell: Why should I be nervous?
Lib Wright: Do you know why I’m here?
Anna O’Donnell: To make sure I don’t eat.
Lib Wright: I’m here to watch. Not prevent you from eating.
Lib Wright: Do you know the dangers of a prolonged fast, Anna?
Anna O’Donnell: I don’t need to eat. I live on manna. From Heaven.
Lib Wright: And how does that feel?
Anna O’Donnell: Full.
'It's a great privilege, being with people at the end. They talk. They tell their stories.' - Lib Wright (The Wonder) Click To Tweet
Lib Wright: I’ve been summoned all the way here to offer my professional opinion on a girl who could be somehow having food secretly shoveled into her mouth.
Sean Ryan: Well, that sounds about right.
Lib Wright: What kind of backwards village imports a professional nurse for something like this?
Sean Ryan: “Backwards village”. Didn’t you nurse in the Crimea?
Lib Wright: That’s exactly my point, Mr. Ryan. This has nothing to do with nursing.
Sean Ryan: You’re being paid handsomely to sit on your backside for a fortnight.
Sean Ryan: [to Lib] Prove it’s nonsense then. Prove it’s nonsense, then f*** off home.
Anna O’Donnell: The mystic marriage of St. Catherine and the baby Jesus. He gave her a wedding ring, but only she could see it. Anyone can be chosen. Saints or sinners.
Anna O’Donnell: Does your family call you Elizabeth? Or Eliza? Or maybe Betty?
Lib Wright: They don’t call me anything. I don’t have a family anymore.
Dr. McBrearty: Doesn’t look like a child who’s not eaten in four months, does she?
Rosaleen O’Donnell: Indeed.
Dr. McBrearty: How strongly the vital force burns.
Dr. McBrearty: What if Anna is drawing on some nutritive force we don’t yet understand?
Lib Wright: Such as?
Dr. McBrearty: Well, magnetism, perhaps? Molecules of scent?
Will Byrne: [to Lib as she’s eating] Are you eating for the patient as well as yourself?
Will Byrne: Perhaps I could interview you instead? The Nightingale who’s come to watch over her.
Lib Wright: I would never speak about a patient. And certainly not to a journalist.
Will Byrne: I’ll have you know, I’ve written for dozens of publications, all over.
Lib Wright: So you’d write anything for a shilling.
Will Byrne: What else has brought you across the sea to play jailer to a child?
Kitty O’Donnell: I dig up turf, and you dig up the truth.
Lib Wright: That’s exactly right.
Kitty O’Donnell: You see, you also need your stories. You write them down in that little notebook of yours.
Lib Wright: Thank you.
Kitty O’Donnell: It’s quite the bible you got going.
'Love requires some action, some intervention, at some point.' - Lib Wright (The Wonder) Click To Tweet
Lib Wright: If you make up names for me, I’m going to have to do the same for you.
Anna O’Donnell: Good morning, Lizzie?
Lib Wright: Should I call you Annie? Or Annabelle? Hannah, perhaps?
Anna O’Donnell: But then I’d be someone else, not me.
Anna O’Donnell: Sorrow is God’s spade.
Lib Wright: What does that mean?
Anna O’Donnell: It readies the ground.
Lib Wright: Can I tell you something? My mother used to call me Lib.
Anna O’Donnell: Lib. Mrs. Lib.
Lib Wright: [referring to Anna] Have you seen anything?
Sister Michael: There’s been nothing to see.
Anna O’Donnell: [referring to Lib going to war] What was it like?
Lib Wright: It was difficult. I was tending to soldiers. Men who’d seen awful things. Who’d done awful things.
'All over the empire, are not children left to lie down and die in ditches and gutters every night of the year? It is a whole sorrowful world that's too hungry to see the wonder in every ordinary child.' Click To Tweet
Lib Wright: It’s a great privilege, being with people at the end. They talk. They tell their stories.
Anna O’Donnell: The souls in Purgatory have to be burned for a while, to clean them. But the souls in Hell have to be burned forever.
Lib Wright: Surely your brother’s in Heaven, Anna?
Anna O’Donnell: We can’t know that, Mrs. Lib.
Will Byrne: I must beg for your help again.
Lib Wright: Ask the nun.
Will Byrne: If she sees me, she’ll take the rod to me. I’ve sinned too much. It shows.
Lib Wright: It would make a good story though.
Will Byrne: Is it all the girl’s doing?
Lib Wright: I’ve watched her until my eyes burn. These days, nothing but water has passed her lips.
Will Byrne: She’s an actress.
Rosaleen O’Donnell: What right does a stranger have to come between a child and its people?
Will Byrne: How is the wee faker?
Lib Wright: She’s not well. But nor does she seem starving.
Will Byrne: Of course not. She’s being fed. She’s got some good tricks. Whose pawn is she? I didn’t think she’d hook you quite so easy.
Lib Wright: She is sincere.
Lib Wright: I’ve forbidden the family from approaching her, so the truth should come out soon.
Will Byrne: By stopping the family, you’re stopping the feeding. This story of the little girl who won’t eat becomes true. She could die.
Lib Wright: Unless they confess first.
Will Byrne: If they confess, they’ll be driven from their home, excommunicated, hauled in front of the judge for misrepresentation, concealment, conspiracy to defraud. Think the folk you’ve been spending all this time with would bear that well?
Father Thaddeus: My only concern, as the family’s parish priest, is for them to find peace.
Lib Wright: So why would you allow this nonsense?
Father Thaddeus: It’s not your job to question us, Nurse. You are here only to watch.
Lib Wright: Then let me.
Kitty O’Donnell: [referring to William] I knew him when we were little. And then he went to school, and I didn’t.
Lib Wright: Ah.
Kitty O’Donnell: He’s a newspaper man now. His family locked themselves up in their cabin. After he went away. When the hunger came, they nailed the door shut from the inside.
Lib Wright: Why did they do that?
Kitty O’Donnell: Privacy. Save themselves the shame of dropping down dead in the street.
Lib Wright: Kitty told me about your family. I didn’t know. I’m sorry.
Will Byrne: What about them? Ah. The most gory bit.
Lib Wright: You weren’t here. You would have helped them if you were here.
Lib Wright: [after they’ve had sex] I thought you didn’t like me.
Will Byrne: I like who I like.
Lib Wright: I had a baby. She lived three weeks and two days.
Will Byrne: I’m sorry. And your husband?
Lib Wright: He vanished a few days after. He may as well have died.
Will Byrne: “There’s not a kingdom through which I haven’t traveled, and, whether it be day or night, I pass unseen. What am I?”
Anna O’Donnell: Someone invisible, who goes everywhere.
Lib Wright: Or something?
Will Byrne: This girl needs no hints.
Anna O’Donnell: The wind?
Lib Wright: Mr. O’Donnell, do you not want your daughter to get well?
Malachy O’Donnell: More than anything.
Lib Wright: Then ask her to eat.
Malachy O’Donnell: She made me swear on her birthday. She made me swear never to ask her to eat again.
Lib Wright: Anna is in danger.
Dr. McBrearty: The great discoveries of science, from Archimedes to Newton, have always seemed like black magic at first. Have they not, Nurse?
Lib Wright: It’s not science. It’s nonsense. Please. You need to stop the watch.
Dr. McBrearty: You are a nurse. Please, don’t make a diagnosis. You’re paid to watch, not to intervene. You’re neither the girl’s mother, nor her physician. You’re overstepping, madam.
Lib Wright: If Anna doesn’t eat, she could die.
Dr. McBrearty: Please just do your job.
Will Byrne: “Rub a clootie on what hurts, and tie it to the May tree.”
Anna O’Donnell: Yes. “By the time it rots away, your hurt will be gone.”
Kitty O’Donnell: [reading from the newspaper] “Little Anna O’Donnell. The last surviving child of a humble bog man, appears to need no more nourishment than air.”
Anna O’Donnell: You don’t understand us.
Lib Wright: I don’t, but I do understand that your mother spat chewed-up food.
Anna O’Donnell: Manna from Heaven.
Lib Wright: From her mouth.
Anna O’Donnell: From God.
Lib Wright: In order to sustain you.
Anna O’Donnell: Manna.
Lib Wright: Food, Anna. Food.
Anna O’Donnell: ‘Twas a holy secret. A mystery.
Lib Wright: Anna, I have to tell. I have to. It’s what I’m here for, to find out the truth.
Lib Wright: Anna, fasting means skipping one meal, not all of them.
Anna O’Donnell: [referring to her brother] That’s to atone. I have to save him from all of the burning. He is burning all the time. That’s what hell is. It’s ceaseless.
Lib Wright: No. Anna, he was just a boy. He was just a child. Why would he be burning? What did he do?
Anna O’Donnell: He said it was double.
Lib Wright: Double?
Anna O’Donnell: Double love. A sister. And a wife.
Anna O’Donnell: [referring to her brother] Love is forever. He told me like it was a story. We married in the night. And then he got sick. It wasn’t holy. He was being punished. And Mammy said that it was my fault he’d been taken.
Lib Wright: No. No. That is not true. That is not true, Anna. No.
Anna O’Donnell: I loved him back.
Lib Wright: Anna’s mother, Mrs. O’Donnell, has been passing her food from her own mouth. She cups her face and kisses her good morning and good night, and she feeds her daughter with each kiss. Like a bird. Now that you have the answer, I am begging you, you must stop the watch and make every effort in keeping this girl from dying.
John Flynn: Lies.
Lib Wright: I am not lying.
John Flynn: It was a mistake, a terrible mistake, to bring a nurse here. An English nurse.
Sir Otway: You will carry on with the watch as planned, Mrs. Wright.
Sean Ryan: Fools.
Sir Otway: The watch will continue.
Sean Ryan: She just told us. She found the reason.
Dr. McBrearty: We all agreed to the watch, and we shall see it through.
Lib Wright: I will nurse her until she dies. As I have done many times before. I have nothing more to say.
Lib Wright: She’s dying.
Rosaleen O’Donnell: She’s chosen.
Lib Wright: She’s not chosen. She’s a child.
Rosaleen O’Donnell: You don’t know us.
Lib Wright: Wait. I’m sure that’s true in many ways. And I’m sure there’s much about your life that I don’t understand. But I do know grief and loss. And the pain of losing a child is something I do know. Abandoning Anna to die when you could have prevented it is a terrible thing.
Rosaleen O’Donnell: This life is so short, Mrs. Wright. The next is for eternity. My children will be in Heaven.
Will Byrne: You can’t take a child from its family.
Lib Wright: They don’t want her!
Will Byrne: You’ve fundamentally misunderstood these people, my people. That man loves her.
Lib Wright: Love requires some action, some intervention, at some point. Not just standing by…
Will Byrne: His faith, his prayer, is his action!
Will Byrne: Her mother and father…
Lib Wright: Have failed her.
Will Byrne: That’s not…
Lib Wright: Will you help me?
Lib Wright: This could be something new for each of us. A new story. A new life.
Will Byrne: I don’t want that.
Lib Wright: I’m not asking you to fall in love with me. I’m asking you to help and maybe live a different way and find contentment in a different place.
Lib Wright: I want you to come. But if you don’t want to, can you just get us as far as Dublin? Please. That’s all. Nothing else.
Will Byrne: It’s not a small thing you’re asking of me. It’s kidnapping, Lib. We’d end up in jail.
Lib Wright: Don’t you wish someone had fought for the lives of your family?
Anna O’Donnell: Am I going to God’s side?
Lib Wright: Yes. It’s nearly time. Anna’s going to God. Anna’s going to die now.
Lib Wright: What if once Anna dies, you wake up. A new little girl. Nine years-old. Nothing bad has ever happened to this little girl. What might her name be? Hey?
Anna O’Donnell: Nan?
Lib Wright: Nan. Of course.
Lib Wright: Anna’s going to die, but Nan is going to live.
Lib Wright: [after taking Anna out of the house] You can wake up now, Nan. Nan?
Anna O’Donnell: Am I Nan?
Lib Wright: Yes. Yes, you are Nan.
[Lib then feeds Anna some bread]
John Flynn: [to Lib, after she burns the O’Donnell’s house] You were hired to watch her, and all you left us with was a pile of ash.
John Flynn: The ruins will become a shrine.
Sean Ryan: Oh, stop with your nonsense, Flynn. If there was a body to be cut open, then you’d have found a hungry child starved to death.
John Flynn: Nothing but holiness would you have found there. Our first saint since the Dark Ages.
Maggie Ryan: Awful. That they allowed it to go on for so long. That a little girl should die. These men.
Sister Michael: Before I found you last night, I believe I was granted a vision. I was too uneasy to stay to the end of Mass, you see. And on my way to the house, I saw an angel on horseback, riding away with Anna. Has she gone to a better place? Can you promise me that?
Lib Wright: I promise.
Kitty O’Donnell: [reading from the newspaper] “Perhaps it is not a village that gathers to grieve what it has lost and repent its sins of omission, nor a single nation. All over the empire, are not children left to lie down and die in ditches and gutters every night of the year? It is a whole sorrowful world that’s too hungry to see the wonder in every ordinary child.”
[we then see Lib, Will, and Anna posing as a family boarding a shop to Sydney]
Kitty O’Donnell: [breaking the fourth wall] In. Out. In. Out.