NEW YORK - "Wonderstruck" is an art film that paints two different portraits of New York City, one in black and white, the other in color. And moviegoers have to wait an hour and a half before they get to see how those two pictures merge into one tableau.
The Queens Museum, with its vast display the Big Apple in miniature, and Manhattan's Natural History Museum leave two generations of children "Wonderstruck" in a film that takes place in two different time periods.
Director Todd Haynes cuts back and forth between 1927 and 1977 for most of his movie.
Ben has run away to New York in the 1970s, when the city was at its scariest, and he's gone looking for his father among the millions of people. A half century earlier, Rose is looking for her mother.
Their quests are complicated by the fact both children are deaf. Ben can talk, but he can no longer hear after a lightening strike back home in Minnesota. Rose is completely mute, so her segments -- shown in black and white -- resemble an old, silent film.
Both kids end up at The Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side, and much of the movie takes place there. It is such a magical place for children that the institution becomes a co-star.
Ben finds a friend his age there, and together, they explore dioramas that become part of the plot. The two stories finally connect during the magical last half hour, which is when Julianne Moore makes the most of her small but crucial supporting role.
The pace of the movie is so leisurely, it's best to go ahead and call it slow. And as such, your satisfaction will depend on how patient you can be while waiting for a payoff that is admittedly sublime.