What with her feature “Don’t Worry Darling” taking a pounding from critics while holding its own at the box office despite barrels of tabloid gossip, rumors of tension on the movie’s set and a barrage of criticism all over social media, actress Florence Pugh hasn’t had it easy lately. Perhaps, however, the scales are starting to balance a bit. Pugh’s period mystery thriller “The Wonder” was released on Netflix on Wednesday, November 16 and — amid a very healthy Tomatometer score of 86% fresh from its theatrical run — rose immediately to the top of the streamer’s global most-watched list.
It took “The Wonder” only 24 hours to zoom into the viewing Top 10 in 74 countries. It’s already number one in 11 of those countries, including the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Spain and Mexico. (It’s sixth in the United States.)
The film adapts Emma Donoghue‘s (“Room”) celebrated 2016 novel of the same name, starring Pugh as Lib Wright, an English Nightingale nurse sent to a tiny village in the Irish Midlands in 1862 to observe 11-year-old Anna O’Donnell (Kila Lord Cassidy). Anna hasn’t had anything to eat or drink for four months and subsists solely on “manna from heaven” yet initially remains in perfect health. It thus dramatizes the mysterious story of the so-called “fasting girls,” a 19th century phenomenon that saw young women stop eating but miraculously survive. It’s helmed by the Chilean director Sebastian Lelio.
The film has received largely positive notices from critics, as has Pugh’s performance, including several raves. Manohla Dargis in The New York Times cited Pugh’s “beautifully calibrated mix of physical vigor and temperamental astringency…(she) embodies the story’s arguments, themes and power with vivid clarity.”
In The Daily Beast, in a review headlined, “Forget ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ – ‘The Wonder’ is the Florence Pugh Performance You Need to See,” critic Nick Schager writes, “‘The Wonder’ is a period piece like few others, attuned to historical oppression and torment and yet inherently modern in form and spirit. It is, quite simply, a wonder, which can also be said about both its accomplished director and star.”
With its 86% score on Rotten Tomatoes, “The Wonder” ranks as one of Netflix’s best-reviewed in-house exclusive releases of 2022.
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