"Stephen Chbosky’s drama is zealously sweet, carrying great messages of what it can mean to pass an act of kindness"
Stephen Chbosky’s drama is zealously sweet, carrying the great messages of what it can mean to pass an act of kindness, and what importance a friendship can hold. Ten-year-old August Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) has an extremely rare facial disfigurement. This is made possible in the film via the glory of prosthetics, and the feelings Tremblay successfully evokes.
We are provided with first-person glimpses in to the world of August, affectionately referred to as Auggie during the film, including other principal characters - Via (his sister), Miranda (her best friend) and Jack Will (the first friend Auggie makes at school). Chbosky allows a depth to grow in each of them which is impressive. Although interestingly he does not devote the same first-person analysis to Julian, the school bully, however, his notable function is to work in direct contrast to everyone else.
Via’s (Izabela Vidovic) sole confidante was her late grandmother, and in her confusion she immerses herself in a school play, otherwise feeling neglected by each parent; at the same time Auggie disregards his beloved space helmet to face the world head on.
Jack Will (Noah Jupe) sees beyond Auggie’s looks, but with that said their friendship is far from plain sailing.
Auggie’s face after a series of operations is undoubtedly still shocking on first sight but his bravery joining the fifth grade steers us away from that.
Isabel (Julia Roberts), mother to Via and Auggie, has brushed aside her creative ambitions in favour of homeschooling her son. His Father, Nate, played by Owen Wilson, carries an equal share of trepidation, afraid that by sending Auggie to school, they are in fact taking him to the slaughterhouse.
Roberts brings her usual, effortless warmth to the screen, at the time she etches out what is indeed a thoughtful, understated role. Roberts conveys particularly well anxious twinges that can only be understood by a mother, these ultimately surround the angst she feels at the thought of sending her son out in to the big wide world.
The script is tackled in such a way that it could be deemed suitable for a broad cross section of ages. However, some of the plot lines aren’t always tied up well. The film brings the topic of integration to the forefront, as it does the ease with which we feel within our own skin, no matter the exterior appearance we behold.
Yes, Wonder will surely make for an uplifting sugar-sweet watch, especially for children, whether they are adept with the book or not. One might even go so far as to call this movie “kid centric.”
My only real disappointment lay in the fact that more adult questions were not looked into, for example, the impact a condition like Auggie’s can have on someone’s emotional mindset. In fact, I could actually see Wonder working better as a television Drama, like ‘This is Us', starring with Mandy Moore.