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The Wonder review – Florence Pugh’s passionate reckoning with a horrific miracle

Pugh drives forward Sebastián Lelio’s haunting adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s story of divine possession Sebastián Lelio’s new film is an arrestingly strange, distinctively literary tale of innocence, horror and imperial guilt adapted from the novel by Emma Donoghue: the anti-miracle of a young girl’s mysterious possession by divine grace. You could put this in a double-bill with The Exorcist. Florence Pugh brings a pugnacious and forthright intensity to the role of Lib, an English nurse who in 1862 comes to a village in rural Ireland, commissioned by a somewhat pompous male committee of priests and worthies to be an expert witness in examining what appears to be a miracle unfolding under their eyes. A young girl, Anna, has not eaten any food for four months and yet appears entirely healthy. Her stricken, awestruck parents Rosaleen (Elaine Cassidy) and Malachy (Coalán Byrne) receive a continuous stream of true believers in their cottage, who are allowed upstairs into her bedroom to speak with the sweet-natured, pious child. Anna is tremendously played by Elaine Cassidy’s daughter, newcomer Kíla Lord Cassidy. The parents have now agreed that Lib will keep watch over Anna to ensure that she is not hiding food, alternating every eight hours with a nun with the same task so that their mission is covered by both medicine and faith. Continue reading...

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