“The Wonder:” That ending explained and all your questions answered

If you just watched The Wonder now that it’s streaming Netflix, you might reflect on that somewhat jarring ending. Chilean director Sebastián Lelio’s psychological drama asks you to believe in the power of storytelling and how it can alter reality. Case in point: The young girl visited by Pugh’s nurse Lib Wright claims she can survive without food, but in reality, someone could tell an amazing story.

Let’s quickly go over the themes of The Wonder, what turns out to be true in the story, and why it opens and ends in such a strange way.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

What is that strange opening?

You might have double-checked what movie you were going to put on after that weird start to the costume drama. To the sound of haunting choral voices, we see the half-built structure of an old two-story house. The camera pans across what appears to be a lot of a movie studio, full of equipment and other set pieces. Then actor Niamh Algar says in voice-over, “Hello. This is the beginning. The beginning of a film called The Wonder. The people you are about to meet, the characters, believe in their stories with total devotion. we are nothing without stories, and therefore we invite you to believe in this.”

The camera then stops inside a ship bound for Ireland in 1862, where the Great Famine “still casts a long shadow and the Irish hold England responsible for that devastation”. Zooms in on Florence Pugh, who plays the English nurse Lib Wright, the protagonist of the tale.

William (Tom Burke), Anna (Kíla Lord Cassidy) and nurse Lib Wright (Florence Pugh).


Yes, it’s all a bit pretentious. But it effectively sets up the film’s main theme: the power of faith. The whole reason Nurse Wright is summoned to Ireland by a self-appointed committee is that many want to believe that Anna O’Donnell miraculously lived without food for four months. Nurse Wright is enlisted to watch the girl for two weeks to determine if she is still alive.

This shot also prepares us to be aware of the transporting power of storytelling: quite quickly you are immersed in the creaky, dripping, smoky world of the ship and Nurse Wright’s journey, a journey the narrator has invited us to believe.

What does Nurse Wright drink every night?

What is real and what is not is also represented by Nurse Wright’s addiction to what appear to be liquid opioids. Nurse Wright has suffered her fair share of tragedy – her daughter died and her husband left her soon after – and the nightcap could be one way to help her cope. Pricking your finger with blood could be a way of verifying that she is still alive or it could be a form of self-harm. Amidst the stress of her current job, the ritual seems to further loosen Nurse Wright’s grip on reality.

A young girl in a hood inside a house

Anna (Kíla Lord Cassidy) refuses to eat because of her beliefs.


Is it true that Anna really doesn’t need to eat?

Not long after Nurse Wright’s stay with the O’Donnell family, we see young Anna’s mother leaning very close to her daughter’s face as she lies in bed. Either it looks like a loving kiss on the forehead or something more creepy. Nurse Wright soon intensifies her surveillance of the miracle patient by insisting that the O’Donnells never go near Anna again. From this moment on, Anna’s condition deteriorated rapidly.

About two-thirds into the film, after convening the committee, Nurse Wright reveals her assessment of the situation: “Anna’s mother, Mrs O’Donnell, has passed food from her mouth. Good morning and good night, and feeds his daughter with every kiss, like a bird.” With Anna’s mother prevented from kissing Anna, Anna quickly falls ill, no longer receiving any support.

Why does Anna refuse to eat?

Even after Nurse Wright reveals her findings to the committee, Anna’s mother refuses to admit the truth. She and her husband are willing to let the experiment continue, even if Anna dies, refusing to renounce their religious beliefs. In any case, Anna has “chosen” the path of death, believing that if she dies “a soul will be released … from Hell”. Anna thinks that this soul will be her brother, who molested her when she was 9 years old for years before he died. He has been “punished” for the “unholy” act with a fatal disease, but her mother says he will be released to heaven with Anna’s sacrifice. Anna believes that this is her duty because she loved her brother.

A blond woman standing in a field in the 19th century

Kitty (Niamh Algar), Anna’s sister, who also ends up being the narrator.


What does the narrator have to do with it in the end?

Ultimately, Nurse Wright uses the power of storytelling and belief to save Anna. After discovering the horrific narrative Anna’s mother fed her, Nurse Wright convinces Anna of a different fate: that she can die and make her sacrifice, but also be reborn as a 9-year-old girl who he has not suffered terrible deeds. By mixing the opioid liquid with the milk, Nurse Wright induces Anna into a trance-like state in which she experiences her rebirth, assuming the new identity of “Nan”.

Nurse Wright forges a report of Anna’s death so the committee won’t report her, and burns down the O’Donnell house so that evidence of a body appears to be destroyed. Fleeing Ireland, Nurse Wright, William and Nan arrive safely in Australia, posing as the Cheshire family. There, we see them partake in an elegant meal, with Nan shown eating again.

To the sound of more hopeful and ethereal tones, the camera pans and we return to the film studio. There we see Algar dressed in black, who no longer plays Anna’s older sister Kitty, but the mysterious narrator. He whispers, “In. Out. In. Out.” Again, pretentious, but this goes back to the idea of ​​believing in stories and the power of faith.

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