Based on Brian Selznick’s 2011 children’s book of the same name, Wonderstruck tells the story of two children separated by time and, initially, by space—but brought together by a history of feeling.
It’s simply not the kind of movie we typically give to children—primarily because we underestimate their intelligence. Brian Selznick also wrote the book that became the basis for Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, which is a good movie (especially for film history nerds) but not, to my mind, a satisfying children’s feature. Something about it feels too anchored to the real world—Scorsese flirts with fantasy and the fanciful, but the movie doesn’t really fly off the rails.
Wonderstruck, by contrast, seems to play by its own rules. Its high emotional stakes make sense, in the end, but it’s Haynes’s wide-eyed filmmaking that makes the job of guiding these young adventurers through a vast, complicated world feel like an adventure in itself.