The following contains spoilers for The Wonder, which is now streaming on Netflix.
on netflix the WonderLib (played by black widow‘s Florence Pugh) is an English nurse who comes to Ireland to investigate a curious case. One girl, Anna, has apparently gone four months without eating, nodding to the “fasting girl” trend centuries ago, but in this case, Anna is on a sacred mission. They’re propping her up like a miracle in her small town, which is why Lib wants to discern the truth.
She’s organized into eight-hour shifts, rotating with a nun, Sister Michael, shaping a battle between science and faith. However, as the psychological period piece unfolds, a dark secret behind Anna’s mission emerges. And make no mistake, as this tragic twist is revealed, it makes for a pretty harrowing journey for the girl.
Anna from Wonder is on a scary fast
In the 1800s, Lib is surprised to see the community accepting the concept that a girl can live without food. Yet the church continues to paint her as a hero, while her family is grateful that she is a chosen recipient. Anna admits that she is not lying, nor is anyone secretly slipping her food: she is being fed “manna from God”, which gives her energy.
Since the last thing she took was communion four months ago, the family is convinced that the essence of the Holy Spirit is in her. However, Lib soon realizes that when Anna’s mother visits her at night and secretly gives her love kisses, she is spitting food into the girl’s mouth, like a baby bird. Lib puts him to the test, banning the family, which proves her theory correct when Anna becomes ill and emaciated as the days go by.
Anna from Wonder has a horrible secret
Lib tries to convince Anna to eat to survive, but has no idea why the girl is resisting despite being exposed. Over time, they bond over grief, as Lib worked in war zones where soldiers died. Anna finally admits that this is penance for her older brother’s death. Lib saw him in pictures and learned that he died of an illness, but Anna confesses that his starvation is punishment for something the brothers did. She began the extreme fast when her brother died, forging a game-changing plot twist that Pugh fans have grown accustomed to in movies of her as do not worry honey.
It turns out that he set her up and had sex with her when she was nine years old, and secretly married her. He called it “double love,” but he got sick and died, which the family thought was God beating him for her incestuous transgressions. They believe she is in hell burning, so the family cajoled Anna into this mission, so she can atone for what they perceive to be sins. They believe that Anna’s actions will cleanse her soul and take him to heaven. It leaves Lib sick to her stomach, allowing Pugh to flex his dramatic chops once more and reminding fans that he’s not just an action star.
Unfortunately, Anna, being so young, maintains that she was in love, so she has no problem being a sacrificial lamb. Her death would make her a martyr, strengthen Christianity throughout the earth, and in her eyes, be an offering that would allow God to bring her brother out of hell. Ultimately, Lib is petrified by how the family is using religion to deceive and abuse the child, with a naive Anna willing to die for something she has no control over as a manipulated victim.
See Anna’s harrowing past revealed in The Wonder, now available on Netflix.