“You shall love,” Javier Bardem intones at the outset of the new trailer for Terrence Malick’s To The Wonder, “whether you like it or not.” The sentiment seems fitting, considering the controversy that has surrounded the film since August, when it was announced that Malick had cut Rachel Weisz, Jessica Chastain, Amanda Peet, Michael Sheen, and Barry Pepper from the final product. When the movie premiered at the Venice Film Festival a week later, at least part of the reason for the drastic snips became apparent: The remaining central cast of Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, and Olga Kurylenko barely have any lines between them. In fact, reactions to the movie so far have suggested that it’s some of Malick’s least narrative, most impressionistic work yet. And considering the director’s infamous fascination with the poetics of the natural world (i.e. wheat—lots and lots of wheat), that’s saying something.
The film focuses on Affleck’s love affairs, first with Kurylenko in Paris and then with McAdams in a Midwestern town. Bardem plays the town’s strangely exotic preacher. If there is more to the plot, aside from lots of hugging and glance-casting—and, yes, running through wheat—the trailer doesn’t let on. “You shall sit through my extensive panoramic shots,” it seems to say, “whether you like it or not.”