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Explained ‘The Wonder’ Ending: Comprehensive Explanation

The Wonder Ending explains

The psychological period drama starring Florence Pugh has an unconventional beginning and ending, to say the least. If you just watched The Wonder on Netflix, you might have questions about that unconventional ending. The psychological drama from Chilean director Sebastián Lelio asks you to believe in the power of storytelling and how it can alter reality. Here is the explanation of ‘The Wonder’ for you to find out why the movie opens and ends in such a complicated way.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

1. What’s with that weird opening?

Source: Zavvi

 After watching this period drama’s strange beginning, you might have double-checked which movie you’d put on. We see the semi-built structure of an old-fashioned two-story house to the sounds of haunting choral voices. The camera pans across what appears to be a lot in a film studio, which is filled with equipment and other set pieces. Then, in voiceover, actor Niamh Algar says: “Hello. This is the start. The beginning of the film The Wonder. The people you’re about to meet, the characters, are completely invested in their stories. We are nothing without stories, so please believe in this one.”

The camera then stops on the interior of a ship sailing to Ireland in 1862, where the Great Famine “still casts a long shadow and the Irish hold England responsible for that devastation.” It zooms in on Florence Pugh, who plays English nurse Lib Wright, the main character of the tale.

The Wonder Ending explainsSource: The Independent

It effectively sets up the main theme of the film: the power of belief. The whole reason Nurse Wright is summoned by a self-appointed committee to a village in Ireland is that many people want to believe a young girl called Anna O’Donnell has miraculously lived without food for four months. Nurse Wright is enlisted to watch the girl for two weeks to determine how she’s still alive.

This framing also sets us up to be aware of the transportive power of storytelling — you’re quickly immersed in the creaking, drippy, smokey world of the ship and Nurse Wright’s journey, a journey the narrator has invited us to believe in.

2. What does Nurse Wright drink every night?

The Wonder Ending explainsSource: Forever Geek

 Nurse Wright’s addiction to what looks to be laudanum, a tincture of opium, is another nod to that question of what’s real and what isn’t. Nurse Wright has suffered her fair share of tragedy — her baby daughter died and her husband left her soon after — and the night cap might be her way of coping. Pricking her finger with blood could be a way of checking she’s still alive — or it could be a form of self-harm. Amid the stresses of her current job, the ritual seems to further loosen Nurse Wright’s grip on reality.

3. Why does Anna refuse to eat? Is that true she doesn’t need to eat?

The Wonder Ending explainsSource: Cnet

 Even after Nurse Wright’s findings are revealed to the committee, Anna’s mother refuses to accept the truth. She and her husband are willing to continue the experiment even if Anna dies because they refuse to give up their religious beliefs. In any case, Anna has “chosen” the path of death, believing that by dying, “one soul will be released… from Hell.” Anna believes this soul is her brother, who groomed and raped her for years when she was nine. He was “punished” with a deadly illness for the “Unholy” act, but their mother says he’ll be released to Heaven with Anna’s sacrifice. Anna believes this is her responsibility because she loved her brother.

Not long into Nurse Wright’s stay with the O’Donnell family, we see young Anna’s mother lean in close to her daughter’s face during a nightly prayer. It isn’t clear if we’re witnessing a loving kiss on the forehead or something more disturbing. Nurse Wright soon escalates her watch over the miracle patient by insisting the O’Donnells no longer come into Anna’s room. From this point onward, Anna’s condition deteriorates rapidly.

About two-thirds through the film, after summoning the committee, Nurse Wright reveals her assessment of the situation: “Anna’s mother, Mrs. O’Donnell, has been passing her food from her own mouth. She cups her face and kisses her good morning and good night, and she feeds her daughter with each kiss, like a bird.” When her mother is prevented from kissing her, Anna quickly becomes ill, no longer receiving any sustenance at all.

4. What’s with the narrator at the end?

The Wonder Ending explainsSource: Heaven of Horror

 In the end, Nurse Wright saves Anna through the power of storytelling and belief. After discovering the horrifying story Anna’s mother has fed her, shepersuades Anna that she can face a different fate: that she can die and make her sacrifice, but also be reborn as a 9-year-old who did not commit terrible acts. Nurse Wright induces Anna into a trance-like state by mixing the opioid liquid with milk, during which she experiences rebirth and takes on the new identity of “Nan.”

She builds a report of Anna’s death so that the committee will not charge her, and she burns down the O’Donnell’s house to conceal evidence of a body. Nurse Wright, William, and Nan escape Ireland and arrive in Sydney disguised as the Cheshire family. There, we see them sharing a fancy meal, with Nan seen eating once more.

The camera pans and we return to the film studio to the sound of more hopeful, ethereal tones. Algar appears in all black, no longer playing Anna’s older sister Kitty, but as the mysterious narrator.

 

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