Ben (Oakes Fegley, above middle) is a child in 1977 whose mother has passed away, and he’s in New York to look for his father. Meanwhile, Rose (Millicent Simmonds) is a child of the same age, and in the same place, but is there 50 years earlier, in 1927, and is looking for an actress, for whom she likes to adorn her scrapbook with her pictures.
The film changes back and forth as it goes, with the score segueing from a ’20s style to a ’70s one, and back again. we get a lot of parallels between the two timeframes, and I get how it’s meant to be clever, and it’s showing us the children going on their own personal journeys of discovery, but for me, it’s watchable for a while without being in any way essential.
It’s also mostly dialogue-free, so with a partially engaging score it’s like a silent movie, but it’s also partially a curiosity as a result. I say “partially” because this only works for so long. I can see some of the things they’re trying to do, such as having the two leads travel in and around the same places, 50 years apart, but I’m not *getting it* as a coherent narrative; and the film rambles on for two hours, with a final 30 minutes that seems to take an age to pan out.
The film is presented in the theatrical 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio and in 1080p high definition and it looks as crisp and clear as you’d expect from a modern movie, bringing us New York as if it’s two separate cities, since the 1927 scenes are all in black and white, while 1977 is in colour.
The sound is in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and it’s mostly dialogue and score.
The extras are as follows:
- Interviews: with director Todd Haynes (6:11), writer Brian Selznick (7:13), and the two boys together, Oakes Fegley and Jaden Michael (5:07).
These are all Q&As where the Q is a caption and the A is spoken by those on camera, so it’s the kind of thing that’s dished out to TV stations, such as BBC1 for Breakfast, at the time of a film’s release so they can make their own features about it.
- Featurettes: Six of them, mostly taking in set design, cast, locations: Cabinet of Wonders (4:01), Millicent Simmonds (7:33), American Museum of Natural History (5:35), Panorama (5:11) – the Panorama Project seen late in the film, The Miniatures (3:55) and The Worlds of Wonderstruck (5:40).
- Audio description track: Does exactly what it says on the tin.
The menu features a piece of theme with some slight animation that looks similar to the cover, subtitles are in English only and there’s the bog-standard 12 chapters, although I go by the rule of thumb of one every five minutes.
Running time: 116 minutes
Released: July 30th 2018
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (ProRes 4:2:2 (2K), Super 35)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Todd Haynes
Producers: Pamela Koffler, John Sloss and Christine Vachon
Screenplay: Brian Selznick (based on his book)
Music: Carter Burwell
Ben: Oakes Fegley
Rose: Millicent Simmonds
Lillian Mayhew: Julianne Moore
Walter: Cory Michael Smith
Jamie: Jaden Michael
Dr. Kincaid, Rose’s Father: James Urbaniak
Otto, Museum Guard: Damian Young
Pearl, The Maid: Lauren Ridloff
Dr. Gill, Teacher of the Deaf: Anthony Natale
Miss Conrad at the Museum: Carole Addabbo
Remy Rubin, Theater Director: Howard Seago
Jamie’s Father: Raul Torres
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.