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Suspended in a Fairytale 

Wonderstruck – Histoire(s) du cinéma: Pardo d'onore Manor Todd Haynes

Suspended in a Fairytale 

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Adapted from Brian Selznick’s wondrous picture-novel, Todd Haynes’ latest experimentation with cinematic conventions follows two deaf children, Ben and Rose, as they come to experience the aweness of life in the big city (New York, naturally) in two different golden ages of American cinema. In the distant past of 1927, Rose escapes from an oppressive home life in search of a famous actress. (Haynes stages these black-and-white flashbacks completely without dialogue, also as a nod to silent cinema – one should also note that 1927 was the year of The Jazz Singer.) Recently impaired by a freak accident and orphaned, Ben has come to NYC from Minnesota 50 years later to find the father he never knew, and ends up tracking down his grandmother (played by Haynes’s muse, Julianne Moore). These two parallel stories unfold with symmetry, as both kids escape the big-city chaos by finding shelter in the American Museum of Natural History, a veritable playground with the potential to spark the imagination of both protagonists and viewers alike. With an immaculate attention to period detail – Ed Lachman’s Saul Leiter-inspired color photography one of many highlights – Haynes is doing nothing less than attempting to capture what silence looks like in this deeply affective film.

Mark Peranson
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