The Wonder is Netflix’s latest star-studded film – but its opening scene has divided viewers.
Set in the aftermath of the Great Famine in 1862 in Ireland, the film stars Florence Pugh as an English nurse sent to look into an 11-year-old “fasting girl” who hasn’t eaten for four months.
However, the film begins with a sweeping shot of a modern-day film studio, where actor Niamh Algar introduces the film via voiceover.
“Hello,” Algar says. “This is the beginning. The beginning of a film called The Wonder. The people you’re about to meet are characters. Believe in their stories with complete devotion. “We are nothing without stories, and so we invite you to believe in this one.”
Later in the film, Algar appears in character as a servant, but breaks the fourth wall to look into the camera and say that “we all have our stories”.
In a four-star review, The Independent’s Clarisse Loughrey called it “an odd, and already critically divisive, beginning”.
Viewers have been split on the scene, with one commenter writing: “My God, the beginning scene of The Wonder is hauntingly beautiful.”
However, another disagreed, writing: “U keep seeing stuff to do with the beginning of The Wonder and I’m so confused how it fits in with the story…”
One viral tweet sharing the clip has been liked nearly 50,000 times and reads: “Was DEFINITELY not expecting this to be the opening to The Wonder, Florence Pugh’s new period piece set in 1862.”
Algar has discussed the meaning of the framing device in a new interview.
“It was sort of sitting down with [director Sebastian Lelio] and figuring out what it was he wanted from that character, someone who is sort of introducing the story but is also in it,” she told RadioTimes.com.
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“It’s that idea of allowing the audience to be drawn into the story, we’re giving them a wink and going: ‘We’re telling the story, stories are used in order to make sense of this world and inviting you in in the hope that you’re going to believe in the characters and the story.’”
The Calm With Horses actor continued: “Then we’re in the story and every now and then, we see Kitty come up and it’s almost like she’s watching everything. She’s watching Florence’s character, and there’s that intrigue, because for Kitty, language is something that she struggles with because she can’t read.
“I think stories must have been quite difficult because she has to be told them, and she’s wanting to learn to read and read the stories for herself, because that’s a powerful tool for someone.”
The Wonder is on Netflix now.