The golden hour, that hour before sunset when the humdrum world is transformed by the warm, suffuse light of the dipping sun, has long been a favourite of Terrence Malick, and he leans heavily on its enchanting effect to create the breathtaking images that fill To the Wonder, his story of a cross-cultural romance between the old world and the new.
But the golden hour depends for its magic on its contrast to the other 23 hours of the day; used exclusively, its honeyed glow becomes saccharine. And this is something that Malick has forgotten. His camera moves ceaselessly, on a constant search for the next beautiful image, never deigning to block a scene out dramatically. Dialogue is reduced to impressionistic snatches and self-consciously poetic voice-over; the impressive cast have nothing much to do but exchange meaningful looks through windblown hair. Without contrast, all that beauty becomes as tiresome as a feature length perfume ad. [Keir Roper-Caldbeck]