A wonderfully heart warming story that encourages us all not to judge a book by its cover
Based on R. J. Palacio’s 2012 book, Wonder plays on that age old lesson of not judging a book by its cover.Every so often a film manages to encompass that feel good factor and tell a story with a good, decent – not to mention heart warming – moral. Wonder is based on a book that centres on a young boy with a craniofacial condition. While not specifically based on the life of any one real boy it does manage to raise awareness, not only of the condition, but also the deeper emotional issues that affect those who suffer from it and those close to them. August ‘Auggie’ Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) has spent all of his school life being home schooled by his mother Isabel (Julia Roberts) which sheltered him from any possible ridicule that he might have potentially faced from kids his own age.Despite loving most of the ‘normal’ things that young boys love, things such as video games, Star Wars and ice cream, Auggie does not look like most boys. He was born with a genetic craniofacial condition that, despite having had 27 surgeries, means he still looks different. Auggie’s life is about to take a drastic change as he enters the fifth grade in middle school which means he is forced to face his fears as he embarks on this new chapter in his life. But it is not only his life that will be changed. While Auggie is undoubtably the main character the film manages to balance his story with the lives of those around him and this is where the film really takes off.
Director Stephen Chbosky, who wrote the screenplay along with Steve Conrad and Jack Thorne, has managed to create an extremely well balanced and enjoyable film, that delivers a solid message without being saccharine or too over the top. The film uses humour to dilute some of the more emotional scenes of Auggie as he deals with his feelings of being different. But this cleverly doesn’t take anything away from his character or the film; by using Chewbacca as an example of someone/thing different, Auggie is able to show his sense of maturity, as well as his vulnerability (these scenes are some of the best).
By breaking the film up into chapters that delve deeper into the lives of those around him, Chbosky is able to show the impact Auggie has on them. We are given more insight into the lives of his sister Olivia (Izabela Vidovic), who feels like an outsider in her own home and her best friend Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell) who is also dealing with her own personal issues - but it is through Auggie that they are able to overcome their obstacles.
Great chemistry and performances by all make Wonder a joy to watch
Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson are both great as husband and wife and mother and father to Auggie. They have some of the most natural and believable chemistry on screen, not only with each other but with Jacob Tremblay as well. I feel that Wilson didn’t get as much development as some of the other characters, that said, he does have a few, albeit brief, key scenes that give Nate some definite depth and emotion. Under prosthetics is Tremblay who gives a truly enjoyable performance that never goes over the top and is utterly charming and delightful to watch. Another great performance comes from Noah Jupe who plays Jack Will, a kid in Auggie’s class at the school on a scholarship, who tries to negotiate peer pressure from the cool kids with doing what’s right.
Wonder is one of those films that doesn’t feel like it’s trying to hammer home a moralistic message or trying desperately hard to be a good film. It feels effortless which is only further enhanced by the cast. Yes, there are some cliched moments but overall it all works seamlessly. Wonder is an easy watch and one that has the potential to jerk a few tears out of even the coldest of hearts. It’s one of those films that makes you feel good whilst gently nudging us to be kinder to one another, and there is nothing wrong with that.
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