Welcome to the Ending Explained for The Wonder, a new Netflix film that is now available on the platform. The film stars Florence Pugh, one of the most interesting and greatest talents of the new generation of actors, in the main role. We can also find Kila Lord Cassidy, Niamh Algar, Cirián Hinds, Toby Jones, and Tom Burker in supporting roles. The movie is an adaptation of the novel of the same name, written by Emma Donoghue. The film is directed by Chilean director Sebastian Lelio, and it is very much the next step in his cinematic journey.
The film might be one of the best films of the year. Not only because it tells a very compelling story that deals with themes such as the Irish famine, faith, religion, and the place of women in society. But also because it does a wonderful job of creating a fabulous example of how we interact with stories. The movie wants to talk about the power stories have on us as individuals and as a society. In the end, the movie feels more like an excellent thought experiment that also ends up being a fantastic cinematic experience.
The following paragraphs contain spoilers for The Wonder. Read at your own risk.
Why Is Lib Wright Going To Ireland?
The movie begins by setting up the stage, literally. We hear a voice in off telling us that this is how the movie “The Wonder” begins and that we are going to follow the story of a nurse bound to Ireland. We see how the camera moves from the modern set to the interior of a ship moving through the sea from England to Ireland. On the ship, we meet Mrs. Wright, the protagonist of the film. A nurse, eating all alone, not talking to anyone, lost in her own dark thoughts.
Lib arrives in Ireland, and she is taken to a pub, where she will stay for the remainder of her visit to the country. She is immediately taken in front of the committee that has hired her to come to Ireland. The committee is composed of five men; including a doctor, a father, the owner of the pub where Lib is staying, and other important members of the town’s society. They inform Lib of her job. She is going to watch a girl called Anna, who hasn’t eaten in more than four months and is still alive. Lib, alongside a nun, is to watch Anne and confirms if a miracle is really occurring or if it is just a scam.
Lib visits Anna’s family for the first time, and she realizes that it is a very devout family. Lib is not particularly religious, but Anna and her family are very much into the faith. Lib also discovers that the older brother in the family has died, and they miss him very much. Lib performs constant checkups on Anna, but the young girl seems completely fine if a little fragile. However, for someone who hasn’t eaten in more than four months, she seems in good health. Lib is not convinced that something miraculous is happening here.
Lib and Anna establish a friendly relationship. Lib reveals that she was married once, but she is now a widow, and that she also had a baby, but not anymore. She is all alone in the world now. Lib also meets a man named, William. He is a reporter and came all the way from England to write an article on the miracle girl. Just like Lib, Williams is not convinced that a miracle is an answer to the mystery. Lib also discovers that William is actually Irish, but left many years ago to study journalism. All of his family perished during the famine. Lib and Williams have sex, and it is clear they have feelings for each other.
Is Anna’s Condition Truly A Miracle?
The watch keeps on going, and Anna seems to be completely fine. However, Lib becomes suspicious when the entire family has to say good night and good morning to Anna every single day. Passing it off as the doctor’s orders, Lib orders the family not to come into contact with Anna anymore. They object, but Lib is adamant, and they allow her wishes. Lib believes this is the only way to conduct the experiment properly. Lib questions Anna, and the girl says that the only thing she eats is mana from heaven.
Lib tries to explain to Anna that mana from heaven doesn’t really exist, but the girl is as religious, if not more, than her family. She says that God is sustaining her life. Soon enough, Anna’s health begins to deteriorate. She starts losing weight, gets dizzy, and she even starts losing teeth. Lib and William don’t understand why the family would allow this. Lib finally realizes what is going on. The good night and good morning kiss that her mother gave her every day were the excuse for her mother to pass chewed food from her mouth to Anna’s.
Now that there is no more kiss, Anna is about to die of starvation. Lib implores Anna’s mother to stop the farce, but the mother says that this is the way her children will get to heaven. Lib makes Anna confess why she is doing this. Anna believes her brother is in hell, and if she fasts and prays enough, she can release his soul from hell. It is revealed that Anna’s brother raped her, and Anna says she loved him back, the incest is their sin, and they must atone for it. Lib is outraged and asks William for his help, they need to take Anna from her family’s hands if she is to survive.
When all the family goes out of the house to go to church, Lib takes Anna out of the house and leaves her near a tree on the road, hoping that William will pick her up. She goes back to the house and burns it. Anna is declared dead, even when nobody is found. The committee lets Lib go to wash their hands of this mess. Lib goes back to London and finds Anna in better health. The three Anna, Lib, and William take a ship to Australia to start a new life together.
As the film ends, the camera pulls out, and we go back to the modern set, where we find actor Niamh Algar telling us that the story is over, and so we are out of the story as well.