The ever-besieged BBC is currently earning its keep by showing two ambitious series about music; The Sound and the Fury, which focuses on the composers of the 20th Century, and is part of a festival held in London’s Southbank inspired by Alex Ross’ The Rest Is Noise, and Howard Goodall’s Story of Music which takes on an even more daunting task, that of attempting to show how Western music has developed over centuries. Goodall’s series has been viewed with some critical complaint; while The Sound and the Fury attempts to make relatively popular 20th Century composers like Glass, Pärt and Reich more accessible to a sceptical public, knowledgeable critics have viewed Goodall’s series as too light, too sprawling to provide true insight into the evolution of the form, or how music is created. (I always assumed it was something like this.)
Which, if you’ll forgive the outburst, is hot bollocks. To those who have grown up in an environment in which the progression in musical theory and artistic complexity from Bach to Mozart to Beethoven is part of a balanced and thorough education, all of this might seem obvious, but it’s all new to me, and talk of minor thirds and intervals, harmonic progressions and the Circle of Fifths, equal temperament and twelve-tone serialism, has been fascinating. For those of us unlucky enough to have been put off from learning about such things due to financial contraints in childhood, this has been public-service broadcasting at its best, and Howard Goodall’s populist but challenging commentary is perfectly pitched. I’ve learned more about music in the last month than in all the years before it (that’s a lot of years; don’t bother asking for further clarification on that).
A couple of weeks ago Goodall compared the works of Liszt and Wagner, semi-contemporaries working at different ends of the musical, emotional spectrum. He discussed the idea of music inspired by Impressionism, operas or symphonic poems that would conjure up specific emotions or images, telling stories through use of leitmotif and thematic transformation, narrative provided through repetition and symbolism. This was the programme that was running through my head, sustained by a hastily Spotified Tannhäuser, as I walked into the cinema to watch Terrence Malick’s To The Wonder, and it became impossible to separate the new ideas planted in my head by Goodall from the overwhelmingly emotional and evocative vision so expertly created by the elusive filmmaker.
Reviews of To The Wonder will inevitably struggle to describe the seemingly amorphous movie, a collage of imagery almost entirely without dialogue. Nevertheless, the Wikipedia synopsis — “A romantic drama centered on an American man who reconnects with a woman from his hometown after his marriage to a European woman falls apart” — is misleading. I’ve seen this elsewhere and can’t help but be repeatedly astonished. Yes, Malick is interested in much more than just one story about one relationship; this is a film about all relationships, between lovers, between a single person and his fellow humans, between the earthly and the divine, as you would expect from the great man. Yet it’s worth noting that in trying to boil this complex tapestry down to a line you would assume this is specifically a film about a man and his relationships, when in fact the film begins and ends with Olga Kurylenko’s Marina, a woman who is in almost every shot of the movie except for a small section about a third of the way through, and whose voiceover is the viewer’s companion for almost the film’s entirety. But then I guess she’s not the biggest star in the film.
Affleck plays Neil, a nearly mute geologist who we first see on holiday in France with Marina, both deeply in love with each other, joyfully travelling to the island fortress/commune of Mont St. Michel in Normandy. From here we see them and Marina’s daughter Tatiana (from a previous, broken marriage) move to Neil’s home in the American Midwest, where the relationship falters for reasons unspecified, though intuitively experienced by the audience; more on that in a moment. Marina and Tatiana leave, and Neil rekindles a romance with Jane (Rachel McAdams, whose role amounts to an extended cameo; sorry, McAdams fans). It’s not long before Neil’s hesitance and sense of duty to Marina leads to him abandoning Jane and marrying his former lover, who returns to the US with legal documentation on her side. The rest of the film details the ups and downs of their relationship, while a subplot about a priest (Javier Bardem) struggling with his faith plays alongside.
This sounds plotted, in the sense of depicting a series of events in a temporally ordered, causal fashion, but this is all conveyed without dialogue and using only elliptical voiceovers ruminating on faith and love (with dashes of exposition added here or there to cover patches of unseen time or untranslatable legal concepts such as visa laws). Malick’s use of visual symbolism to convey plot reminded me of Carlos Reygadas’ Post Tenebras Lux (which, in turn, reminded me of The Tree of Life), an interesting film which dealt with the terrifying impotent reactions of men to the unknown in nature and femininity. It too told its story through a web of imagery and juxtapositions, mocking the pretensions of modern civilisation in a world of ferocious hostility, but without a recognisable A-B-C narrative structure the effort to unravel Reygadas’ meaning took its toll. As an intellectual exercise Post Tenebras Lux is fascinating, but it’s also almost defiantly obtuse, almost alienating. This was my best effort at parsing it.
The same mental effort was expended in trying to come up with a coherent theory of what Malick was trying to do in To The Wonder, even more so than with The Tree of Life, with its cosmic scope balanced with the intimacy of its main thread; the cold vastness of the universe compared to the emotional failings of an aloof father, the possibility of redemption for men broken by a lack of nurturing, the pain that exists in a human contrasted with the gargantuan geological timespan and the trip from birth to a time beyond time, an afterlife in which God’s love exists as the only truth. As Malick spends much of Tree of Life layering together imagery in a pretty straightforward way — galactic segues notwithstanding — it offers easily-digestible narrative without much guidance. It’s there if you’re willing to look for it.
To The Wonder is arguably even more impressionistic. It lacks The Tree of Life‘s epic scope, taking a slice of time from four lives and showing their emotional and intellectual struggle through allusion, both visual and aural. Drilling down into the human, which some might say is, in comparison to the breadth of Tree of Life, relatively trivial, might account for much of the criticism levelled at this. I can understand that. And yet I realised at the mid-point of the movie that as I struggled to interpret every repeated motif as metaphor hinting at grand themes, Malick’s mastery of the form was such that the actual plot of the movie was clear enough to follow without prompting; without any effort expended, even. Scale no longer mattered, thanks to this elegance, this precision. The story was laid as if colours were being painted onto my mind, a picture forming without me even realising. Whereas direct storytellers impart information through action and in-film communication, Malick was telling a story through movement, light, colour and music.
This form of storytelling is no doubt nothing new, but to someone (i.e. me) who is trying to write #TheProject — a heavily-plotted and comparatively conventional trilogy with criss-crossing arcs and broadly drawn characters and themes — it’s intriguing to see Inferential Narrative done to this extent, as an experiment in how far Malick can take the method. While Reygadas’ movie was so cold that attempting to engage with it was like chipping away at a block of ice, Malick’s movie is warm and encompassing, even if it isn’t the wishy-washy meditation on love and God of popular misconception. Mood is here conveyed through precise composition or movement of actor and camera in clearly realised spaces, or by changes in lighting or colour tone, or ambient sound mixed with a range of beautifully evocative pieces by Shostakovich or Dvořák or Górecki; characters or places as notes, scenes as refrains, narrative as symphony.
These techniques obviously aren’t unique to Malick, and to be honest it’s the least you’d expect from a real filmmaker, but by stripping away dialogue and using only blunt metaphor mixed with inference he’s proving that that’s all you need, and this technique can create moments of incredible power; more than once I found myself moved to tears without understanding why this was happening. While my mind whirred in an attempt to find a pattern in this montage, Malick had reached into my heart and squeezed. All this in a movie about some really kinda selfish and lost people who almost defy sympathy, whose misunderstandings and heightened expectations are raised to an operatic level by Malick’s attentions. We have no need of the cosmic in this film; Malick’s eye and ear are enough to transform mundane inspections about the modern mind into something transcendental. This unapologetic approach is something his detractors mock, but if you’re able to tune into his wavelength the result can be insight, emotion, even awe.
Initial reports of audience reactions to this movie were mixed — if you wish to be forgiving — though it has received more than its fair share of dismissive mocking; Malick’s sincerity seemed to only be accepted by some viewers when matched with a sporadic output. Familiarity has now bred contempt. It doesn’t help that the arguably shapeless nature of the narrative, coupled with a greater knowledge of Malick’s seemingly unformed and random filming process, has led to charges that he’s lazily filming people aimlessly walking around and then editing it together with a voiceover to give some kind of structure. There’s a case to be made for that, though I’d argue that the shot of Neil, now alone in his sparsely-decorated and suddenly shadow-filled house following Marina and Tatiana’s departure, walking past a dipping bird at the bottom of the frame, shows there is purpose here. Call this an obvious metaphor for Neil’s inability to break out of a pattern if you want, but don’t also accuse Malick of making it up as he goes along.
Some good articles have been written about it as well, none more thrilling than Bilge Ebiri’s excellent theory in which he suggests that the continual movement of the characters is evidence that To The Wonder is to be considered as a ballet. Certainly this is suggested directly within the film; at one point Marina handles a pair of ballet shoes. It also makes sense when you see the numerous pirouettes performed by Marina and Tatiana (and, if memory serves me, Jane too), and with these three women moving around Neil in a pas de deux. These movements are dialogues or monologues, often with only a few different phrases — twirling as expressions of ecstatic joy, movement around other people as either borne of compassion or rejection, movement in rooms either as explorations of new surroundings or the pacing of trapped animals. With these few phrases Malick creates a complex and intuitive visual language, and instinctively we understand the evolution of the relationships, helped by his use of light and shadow, the changing of his palette from soft golds to flat browns to cold blues or greens.
(From this point on I’m going to get into specifics about the plot and what I think Malick’s movie means, so if you want to see it without this interpretation rattling around in your head then progress no further. I’ll just say this about the movie and then you can leave; To The Wonder represents the most pure expression of Malick’s filmmaking philosophy to date, and if you haven’t enjoyed his last few films then perhaps avoid this one too. But I’d argue that exposure to this full-on burst of Malickian methodology is worthwhile just on a technical level — the photography by Emmanuel Lubezki is breathtaking, and Erik Aadahl’s sound design is intelligent and does wonders in establishing tone or hinting at details unspoken — and to see Olga Kurylenko’s expressive physicality pretty much carry the film. As time wears on I realise what an interesting but oft-ill-served actress she has become, and hope that she finds challenging projects in future.)
Beyond those elements are the specific visual signifiers and contrasts, starting with a quest for ecstasy — either religious or emotional — and eventually depicting depression borne of captivity as euphoria’s diametral state. At the start of the film we see Marina and Neil drive to Mont St. Michel, where they ascend stairs to reach the Cloister — this being La Merveille, aka The Wonder, of the title. This is during the first flush of love, the moment in their relationship during which they will feel the most overwhelming emotions, that lift the spirit up from the body, as shown by the continual upward pans of the camera, repeatedly leaving the ground to look up to the sky. The two lovers keep touching the things around them, as if holding themselves down to prevent them from flying up into the heavens; two people made weightless by the power of their feelings. This sets up the Wonder as the thing that all the characters want to get to, and though they manage it from time to time, they will ultimately be thwarted. This is not a sentimental film about the wonder of love; this is an exploration of the futility of chasing transient feelings of joy.
From then on Malick’s camera no longer pans up to the sky; Neil and Marina’s European sojourn ends and they move from the verticals of Europe to the horizontals of the Midwest, and though we see wide expanses of fields with a bright orange sun perpetually trapped in the Golden Hour, whenever the camera looks up from the ground we cut to shots of the sky, partially blocked by buildings or phone-lines, or criss-crossed with parabolic contrails, mocking the earthbound protagonists. While Mont St Michel is depicted — unexpectedly, and arguably as a critique of religion — as a blue monument to God in the middle of a wet grey landscape, with only a flash of rose-red colour, Marina and Tatiana now find themselves in a world in which life is mocked by the garish colours of a supermarket, here filmed as a kind of funhouse for the young girl; anyone who has lived in Europe for most of their life will recognise the discombobulation experienced upon walking down rainbow aisles of American products, the eye unable to land on any one thing thanks to the dizzying abundance.
Discombobulation is the key to this sequence. Marina and Tatiana struggle to adjust to the differences, to the wide world they find themselves in. There are almost no stairs here, and when there are they aren’t ascended together; instead they serve to show separation between Neil and Marina as their love sours. Even after Marina returns to Paris those skies are gone; we see her depression manifest in rainy night-time skies, the organic shapes of the old-Europe buildings replaced with La Grande Arche de la Défense. Malick isn’t done yet, though. The holy place in which Marina attempts to find solace upon returning to America is the church in which she finds Father Quintana, and even here the bright colours of the stained-glass windows evoke those consumerist distractions; religion as product, detached from nature, empty of deeper meaning, depicted earlier as drizzly grey but nonetheless genuine godliness. Marina has experienced the Wonder once, and as Quintana battles with his fading faith, so too does Marina on both the spiritual and emotional planes, battling to return to that state of grace.
By this point in the film Malick has started to increase the frequency of his most important visual component; the prison. In the midst of this natural beauty he adds grids, fences, the framework on which bleachers sit, tiled floors and suchlike. We see cattle held in pens, we see Jane offer her hands up to Neil for binding with a rope (with the statement, “I trust you”), and when Marina returns to the US to marry Neil for the purposes of obtaining a visa their “wedding” is held in a courtroom, surrounded by prisoners in handcuffs signing documents. The couple moves to a new house surrounded by a high fence, within which Marina paces relentlessly. The sunlight which Malick has tried to equate with ecstasy and/or freedom is now filtered through windows and blinds, replaced with artificial light; one short sequence shows Neil and Marina turning lights on and off, followed by a montage of houses and streetlights filling patches of dark with their fake luminescence. The human need to conquer the natural order of things with an approximation of true glory, and only finding small solace in the inevitable blackness.
It’s not just physical fences that bind these characters. Marina tells Quintana early in the film that she has already had one marriage go sour, and as a result she can no longer take communion. She is separated from the experience of receiving Christ, and despairs because of this. Her ability to stay in the US is curtailed by the expiration of her Visa, and she can only return with the help of Neil, who by this point has found what might be happiness — Wonder — with Jane. Nevertheless, for some reason, probably some sense of honour as much as it could be love, he leaves Jane and marries Marina, allowing her back. Whatever the reason, this is something that constrains him as much as any law does. He mutely accepts this obligation, even as he reinforces the shackles that hold Marina to him; twice in the movie we see him with tools in his hands, either when adding shutters to the windows of the house, or maintaining that all-important fence.
But it’s the act of being in a couple that seems to pen the characters in most of all, with Neil’s efforts to maintain the relationship with Marina causing the greatest unhappiness. Malick’s treatment of this man is curious; instead of being a protagonist he’s almost the antagonist, getting in the way of Marina’s evolution. Even more interesting is how he’s shot; usually from the same height as Marina, most often appearing onscreen as a chin or a back, infrequently in full view as he towers over his lovers or prowls the streets, investigating the pollution of the town’s groundwater and failing to provide comfort to those who live there, much as Quintana walks through the town, ineffectually trying to help the people living in the most impoverished areas. Malick treats Neil like some kind of unknowable monolith, only really showing him full-on, face smack in the centre of the frame, during a sermon from Quintana about Jesus helping those who act. Neil cannot act. As Marina says in voiceover later in the film, he can only wait for others to act to release him from things, and this proves to be true. His inaction holds everyone back.
But is it Neil’s inability to act that ruins his relationships? Or is it the act of being in love itself? Running alongside the other themes of imprisonment and transcendence is the idea that we corrupt things of nature or beauty. Quintana, in talking about love, acts as if it is a curse we cannot escape; “You shall love, whether you like it or not.” Our lives are wrecked by it, just as we wreck our environment, or each other. Neil investigates the pollution of a town by workers who rip the ground up and add lead and cadmium to the water — and, in a perfect example of his uselessness, we see him react to one man’s tale of woe involving his house being made unlivable by the work with the words, “That’s too bad”. Marina falls ill and fears that she’ll have to have a hysterectomy, only to find that an IUD is poisoning her body, depicted here as similar to a broken cross on an x-ray. During the course of the film she takes two lovers; each of them have bodies marked by tattoos.
Purity of the spirit is made impossible by our actions; the uncertainty principle that leads to us chasing our tails and losing sight of the important things. Is the mind and its insatiable need to look for explanations to inexplicable things the problem? Is happiness ever attainable? Can we ever improve things for ourselves, or will our restlessness doom this endeavour and everything we try to do to fix things? Neil never improves anything; he makes everyone unhappy, cannot help the townsfolk, and doesn’t even seem to come up with a solution to the unnamed company’s polluting. Additionally Quintana’s ability to help people is affected by his over-intellectualising, which renders his faith next-to-useless. Only near the end does he rediscover his ability to help the decrepit and decaying townsfolk, his ambivalence cured by his decision to leave the place that he has grown to resent, even as Neil wrestles with the decision to leave Marina.
This corruption of the spirit, this sense of obligation to stay with people or places that hold a person back, is the poison of the soul that prevents a person from finding that Wonder once more. In that sense this movie, derided as being some frippery about the nature of love, is actually searching for answers as to whether tying yourself to another person or place is healthy. Is marriage — love governed by rules both legal and religious — anathema to true intimacy and joy? Malick seems ambivalent about the idea of loyalty to others if that compromises your own emotional growth, and punishes Neil for his decision to help Marina, even if she would fare even worse without his help. We also never get clarification on whether Jane would make Neil any more happy than Marina; a woman who, along with Quintana, is out-of-place, eager to keep looking for the love of God but unable to due to society’s laws or a foolish sense of duty. Hell, Marina is, for much of the second half of the movie, so depressed she dresses almost exclusively in black, mourning the person she once was.
To The Wonder might be even more than a critique of marriage. Is Malick saying that we are wrong to try to recreate the true beauty of God’s love — which is what I took sunlight to represent here, usually fleetingly glimpsed trying to reach us through obstacles — with the insistence on clinging to those who make us feel a fragment of the rapture we once felt, hence the continual focus on artificial light? Marina is shown to be on anti-depressants; are relationships merely a respite from loneliness, a reminder of the experience of feeling accepted by forces beyond us? But then religion and spiritual joy is up for questioning too. Quintana’s sudden urge to avoid helping the people of the town makes him doubt everything, to the point that he offers communion to Marina even though this is in contravention of the Church’s rules. Even this act is mocked later as we see Quintana offering Communion to a number of convicts in the local prison, their mouths level with the hatch through which food is passed, the priest passing the wafer as if feeding a machine.
Though Malick arguably presents established religion and any form of compromise within a relationship as being antithetical to the idea of freedom and spiritual epiphany, he still recognises the beauty to be found in the mundane, and as he builds to a crescendo in which Marina makes her move and frees herself from the bondage of love not truly felt — either by leaving Neil or by taking a different route, as hinted by some of the rather heavily sign-posted metaphorical imagery of the last few minutes — Malick portrays these actions through beauty, perfectly matching image and sound, lifting me from my body and offering up the possibility that the decision to take control of one’s life, to act on instinct and cast off shackles, means a person might rediscover that wonder by removing the poison from one’s life and moving on, being true to oneself and never stopping until you find the person or situation that fills that hole in a person’s heart.
Ebiri sees the pirouettes as ballet moves, and he could be right. But these movements, these ecstatic turns made with arms outstretched, could also be flight, and though we end with Marina dancing into the dark with that artificial light at her back, nevertheless, for a moment there, she was able to fly. Perhaps this beatific freedom is attainable by everyone. Malick might not mean that, making this one of his most pessimistic movies, in which the society — the prison — we have built is the inescapable thing that always holds us back, but nevertheless he cannot prevent me from coming to the conclusion that a life that contains even the possibility of momentary epiphany is a life worth living. He also cannot stop me from thinking that this intellectually precise work of immense honesty, curiosity and complexity gave me one of those fleeting experiences of great insight. Even when the beauty of its light is mixed so elegantly with the ambivalence of its darkness, this is his path to wonder.
(For your information, this review was written while listening to a hastily constructed Spotify playlist that collects some of the music to be found in the film. No official soundtrack exists just yet, but a track listing exists online, and I made this playlist collecting the classical pieces. No word yet on whether Hanan Thompson’s original compositions will become available. I will say this though: Team Górecki 4evah.)
Return  Disclaimer: the gaffer on Goodall’s excellent series turned out to be my old mate John Slater, but I only found this out after I’d tweeted effusive praise about the show. As you would expect from this fine gentleman, it’s a very well gaffed show.
Return  You don’t hear anyone’s name during the movie; this is gleaned from the credits. Yet another nice touch; this is a movie about emotion, not specificity, and to screw things down to the ground with extraneous detail detracts from Malick’s goals.
Return  It’s also worth noting that this could be seen as another of Malick’s autobiographical works. The Tree of Life is often described as a film about Malick’s childhood and his struggles with his father — in this interview Brad Pitt says this wasn’t articulated to him during shooting but he felt there was something there that he too recognised — and there’s a possibility that this has something to do with a relationship in his past, though of course we don’t really have much to go on, considering his reclusive nature. What we can say is that even if this is meant to be a very personal film, Malick has filmed it in such a way that his concerns and questions become universal, which is great because seriously, who wants to watch a film about some guy working out his bitterness over a relationship break-up? That shit’s the worst. [Edited to add] Okay, that statement about us not knowing much about Malick’s history turns out to be not strictly true. Joseph McDonagh’s review contains a link to a Variety article (at the bottom) that contains a lot of telling detail about Malick’s second marriage. Let’s just say I’ve upgraded To The Wonder to the status of “guy using his past to explore big themes”.
Return  Were I more confident about such things I could probably try to break To The Wonder down into the four or five movements of a symphony, but considering I didn’t even know what a chord was until a couple of weeks ago it’s best I leave that to someone else, or just accept Bilge Ebiri’s ballet theory as the superior one.
Return  Much has been made of the film’s lack of dialogue, and indeed the main characters say very little, to the point that Marina’s greater share of voiceover duty means the film could almost qualify as “foreign language”. That said, Malick tunes into conversations occurring on screen as if they’re punctuation, or the notes of one of the instruments he is using in this symphony. I’d be interested to read a transcript of all of the words spoken in this film, either as voiceover or diegetic dialogue, to see how the phrases left in by Malick strengthen or weaken my arguments about the ultimate meaning of his brilliantly wrought meditation. There’s a chance that these splinters of speech have already worked on me; fractured to the point of making no sense but yet making a kind of sense at the corner of the mind, nothing direct but, as with the visuals, telling a story obliquely; a tale felt like a breeze on the skin, not experienced through brute pummelling.
Return  Yes, arguably, as Mont St Michel, even when shown in such grey tones, is still a wonder to behold — it was apparently the inspiration behind the design of Minas Tirith in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which makes sense as The Court of the Fountain, in which resides The White Tree of Gondor, is reminiscent of The Cloister, at least in my head. The other memory tweaked by this sequence is the shore of The Tree of Life, which one assumes is meant to represent the afterlife; we see Neil and Marina playing by the causeway that will be swamped by the tide that comes in to separate the fortress/monastery from the mainland. This strengthens the argument, as mentioned in spoilery point  below, that the final scenes have a greater significance than merely tying up the film with a visual bookend.
Return  Neil’s inability to settle down is reinforced visually by the boxes that litter all of his homes. There are very few furnishings, and instead we see his belongings either being removed from or placed in boxes. This sense of restlessness is mirrored by Marina and Quintana, separated from their homeland, cast adrift from their joy and unable to settle. Only Jane seems to be immune to this, living on her ranch. This stability could have been Neil’s too, if he had only stayed with her, but perhaps the open spaces, this freedom, is not his thing either. He needs to hide behind his walls, and if they’re not enough to keep things fixed to him, he will build fences to prevent people from leaving him alone.
Return  Though of course Neil does act, in helping Marina return to the States, but of course this could just as much be his fear of the feelings he has for Jane; we’ll never know. That said, at least he has Christ’s forgiveness to keep him warm, as is explained in-film, either by Quintana or Marina, I can’t recall who. What? Gimme a break, it’s not like I was taking notes. There’s a lot going on in this film and it’s hard to keep track of it all. Jeez!
Return  It might seem odd that Malick would follow The Tree of Life — a film that spanned all time and space and then beyond — with something relatively intimate (though with a visual scale that dwarfs most other movies), but while ToL juxtaposed the development of a man with the development of the Earth itself, this burrows down into the actual moment-to-moment life of a person within a body. Another consequence of his fascination with the movement of his characters is that Malick is depicting humans flexing and twisting their bodies, not only in relation to their surroundings and the people in their proximity but also in relation to themselves. His camera catches blemishes and pockmarks, moles and hair and skin and teeth, mostly clothed but sometimes naked as we become more intimately acquainted with who these people are. Among other things, this is an ode to what it is to be a human when rooted in a place, with time acting as the engine that wears us down physically, emotionally, spiritually.
Return  Spoilers here: The rather obvious symbolism of Marina walking down a long hallway into light, and then waking up in a field in which she has to drink rainwater collecting on trees, before cutting to a final shot of Mont St Michel, tends to suggest that she has decided to kill herself, as she threatened to do earlier in the film (after all we do see her making sure she reclaims all of her pills after spitting them at Neil), and the airport would therefore be a construct for the benefit of the viewer, but I hesitate to suggest that Malick would do something so clunky, mostly because it’s such a horribly downbeat possibility, not to mention an enormous cliche. Perhaps he is merely attempting to show the finality of Marina’s decision to leave Neil, utilising common metaphorical imagery for The End to denote her true progression into a new phase of life; a metaphor used as a meta-metaphor. Or this is my best fanwank yet.
Return  Hence ending the film in an airport.