I do not know if we will ever get to see it on the big screen here in the little hamlet of Victoria on the west coast of North America but today is the release date of Terrence Malick’s new film “To The Wonder”.

The movie which centres around three characters has only the thinnest storyline. It is on the surface a simple tale of  romance and struggle in human relationships.

Neil (Ben Affleck) is an environmental inspector who meets Marina (Olga Kurylenko) a single mother lilving in Paris. In spite of his deep resistance to commitment Neil, asks Marina and her 10-year-old daughter Tatiana (Tatiana Chiline) to move to Oklahoma with him.

The family of three live happily together for a while until things start to collapse when Marina’s visa expires and she’s forced to go back to Paris. While Marina is away Neil reconnects with Jane (Rachel McAdams), a childhood friend now divorced and managing a ranch on her own.

Father Quintana (Javier Bardem), is Marina’s priest and confidante, who is suffering from a crisis of faith.

But, as will all Malick films, the narrative serves as a vehicle for the exploration of much deeper matters of the human spirit.

Of course already, the elite viewers who attend film festivals or get to see preview showings have filled the internet with wildly negative responses to Malick’s newest venture in film-making. Even the star of the film Ben Affleck has apparently lamented his part in the project.

But, in the midst of all the negativity, David Jenkins at “Little White Lies” sounds a hopeful warning,

Don’t believe the anti-hype: Terrence Malick’s fractured modern love poem is a sensual marvel…

The brilliant insight in the conclusion of Jenkins’ review leads me to believe that indeed there may be hope that all the naysayers are again wrong about Mr. Malick.

Its utter earnestness leaves it wide open to criticism, but to bemoan the superficial quality of the performances, the script or the story would be to miss the point of the film entirely. Malick doesn’t make films anymore. He builds cathedrals.

From what I have been able to gather about Malick’s new film, he is offering a profound meditation on the potential power and the possible pitfalls of romantic love. Malick understands that human relationships are often difficult and painful. He feels profoundly the haunting reality of  desire that lurks on the dark edge of our consciousness calling us always out into unknown territory.

It appears that in his newest film Malick is intent on posing deep uncomfortable and challenging questions about the nature of love and the place of commitment in relationships.

How do we live with the power of longing in our lives? What is the place of choice in the long-term survival of a relationship? What role do sin and forgiveness play in helping us navigate the treacherous waters of being in relationship?

Where is God in the messy business of human relationships? When human love fails, is there something more?

Father Quintana prays at one point in the film,

Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ in my heart. Show me how to seek You.

Again it seems Malick is intent on boldly going where most film-makers fear to tread. He steps bravely into the land of deep emotion and explores the life of faith with an openness and depth that makes him an unusual artist at work in any medium today. Sadly, it appears that Malick’s willingness to enter the intimate terrain of spirituality and love will again alienate many viewers.