Todd Haynes’ storybook drama Wonderstruck has received a warm welcome at the Cannes Film Festival, with many critics hailing the performance of 14-year-old deaf newcomer Millicent Simmonds.
But critics aren’t the only ones impressed by Simmonds: So is her considerably more experienced costar Julianne Moore, who told EW and PEOPLE the young actress is “just magnificent on screen.”
Based on Brian Selznick’s YA novel, Wonderstruck tells the parallel stories of two deaf children — played by Simmonds and Pete’s Dragon star Oakes Fegley — taking place 50 years apart. The film is partly wordless, but according to Moore, it speaks volumes about the reason we go to movies: to have “a human experience. We’re able to say, ‘You’re making me see something. You’re making me understand something about myself.’”
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She added of Simmonds, “I think being deaf or hearing is inconsequential to the ability to act and the ability to communicate.”
Haynes told EW and PEOPLE that casting a deaf performer to play Rose represented a both a challenge and an opportunity. “What we found in Millie was a remarkable thing,” he said. “And then her experience as a deaf kid and a deaf person obviously enriched and deepened that performance immeasurably.”
Wonderstruck opens Oct. 20. Watch Moore and Haynes in the video above.