Todd Haynes has long been a director associated with nostalgia. From his beautifully fragmented portrait of Bob Dylan, I’m Not There (2007), to his ode to Douglas Sirk, Far From Heaven (2002). Haynes manages to hone in on a specific period of time, or an element of culture, and capture onscreen its very essence. In his new feature, Wonderstruck, Haynes has taken on the challenge of juxtaposing two decades from the 20th century; the 1920s and the 1970s. The film centres around two children - Rose, a deaf girl living with her father in 1927; and Ben, an orphaned boy living in 1977, who runs away from rural Minnesota in an attempt to find his father.

The film is a children's film in the sense that The Night of the Hunter (1955) is a children’s film. It deals with numerous difficult issues, however the narrative is almost entirely seen from the point of view of a child. Haynes juggles the dual narratives well, and cleverly draws parallels between the lives of the two children through cross-cutting. The narrative at times can seem somewhat long winded, or seem to be taking quite a roundabout way to get from A to B, however this is not a major drawback for the film, which manages to crescendo into a glorious and adorable animated segment.

As for the visual style of the film, Haynes took the approach to have the style of the two narratives differ. Rose's story holds what is clearly supposed to be an aesthetic which pays homage to silent cinema. However, as with many films which try to recreate this look, Haynes fails when it comes to detail. The camera positioning and the frequent use of reaction shots feel far too modern for the approach Haynes is aiming for. However Carter Burwell's score throughout this segment is incredibly charming, and does manage to hark back to what we'd hear from the silent period. The visual style of Ben's segment is clearly reminiscent of 1970s New Hollywood cinema. The section of the film in which Henry and his friend are exploring the cinema at night manages to catch a childlike awe akin to Spielberg's youthful works. Here Burwell gives us an almost Eno-esque score, using obscure almost ambient sounds to create a dreamy atmosphere which works consummately. In the final chapter of the film we are presented with a gorgeous animated section, one which brings the film together with such beauty and emotion that it makes the somewhat overstretched narrative feel worth it.

Todd Haynes' follow up to the utterly stupendous Carol (2015) manages to solidify Haynes as the modern master of nostalgia. A charming homage to silent cinema, with visual cues to silent masterpieces such as The Wind (1928) and The Crowd (1928), Haynes manages to juggle the twin narratives and bring them together stylishly. Wonderstruck is a film for those looking for a film that is packed with wistfulness, emotion, and of course; wonder.