When Julianne Moore’s elderly deaf character Rose enters the frame in Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck to the tune of Eumir Deodato’s take on “Sprach Zarathustra” (also prominently heard in the Peter Sellers comedy Being There), you know something amazing is about to happen, and surely it does.
The Oscar-winning Still Alice actress plays not one, but two roles in her fourth outing with the Oscar-nominated director following Safe, Far From Heaven and I’m Not There: One a 1920s diva actress Lillian Mayhew, and the other the older version of Lillian’s deaf daughter Rose. “He did want there to be a link between the characters, it was a way to tell a story in cinema that is an emotional one.”
Similar to how Moore steeped herself passionately in the Alzheimer community for her turn in Still Alice, she also bonded with the American deaf culture in her preparation to play Rose, which she talks about here. “I’m never ever going to know exactly what that means (to be deaf), but they allowed me an entree to a world …that exists under our very own eyes,” says the actress.
Wonderstruck premiered last night at the Palais to a four-minute standing ovation. Roadside Attractions will be releasing the Amazon Studios picture on Oct. 20 in time for awards season. The movie follows two parallel stories of a deaf girl in the 1920s who is searching for solace in New York City as she is misunderstood by those around her; while in 1977, a young, grief-stricken boy is also on a mission to solve his own personal mystery.
On having Moore play two characters in his film, Haynes says, “We have this interesting through line; the whole movie is about how two halves informing the other and trying to find the through line and connectivity through two disparate stories;the mystery is about why are we watching these two stories? Why are these kids on parallel tracks?”
For Moore, it’s Haynes’ “Precision of vision to his point of view” that sets him apart from the other auteurs she’s worked with over time.
Says the actress, “What really makes him so spectacular I think is that he’s one of those few filmmakers who is able to manifest what it is to be a human being cinematically, which is why we go to the movies. We go to the movies to have an experience, mostly to see ourselves reflected, to see our very own humanity reflected. He does that not just in the story he tells, but literally in the way he presents it on film.”