For most of his career, Todd Haynes has specialized in intimate dramas and character studies —films that might be small in scale but are shot through with large emotion. However, his next feature “Wonderstruck” promises to be his most ambitious outing yet. While he’s once again put some tremendously talented actresses in key roles, namely Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams, the story revolves around children and is split between two time periods. If that isn’t enough, Haynes has one more trick up his sleeve.
Based on the book by “Hugo” author Brian Selznick, the film will be set in in two different time periods and focuses on two children: the 1977 segment revolves around Ben, who runs away from his family in Minneapolis and heads to New York City, and the 1927 scenes feature Rose, a deaf child who plots an escape from her home in New Jersey to NYC to see her favorite actress Lillian Mayhew. According to Deadline, Haynes will be shooting the latter setting in the style of a silent film, for which deaf actress Millicent Simmonds has been cast as Rose. The director will use a number of other deaf actors for this section of “Wonderstruck” to better capture Rose’s perception of the world.
Sounds like terrifically bold stuff from Haynes, and it’ll be fascinating to see his strong visual eye when applied to the aesthetics of silent cinema. “Wonderstruck” will be produced by Amazon Studios, and it’s moving steadily up our must-see list for 2017.