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Wonder: Sweet, Earnest and Genuinely Heart-Warming

  • Jacob TremblayJulia Roberts...
  • Drama
  • Stephen Chbosky
reviewed by
Marija Djurovic
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Wonder: Sweet, Earnest and Genuinely Heart-Warming

It’s hard not be swept away by Stephen Chbosky’s heartfelt drama, Wonder. Based on R.J Palacio’s best-selling novel of the same name, the film tells the tale of a young boy born with a congenital facial deformity trying to fit in with the rest of the world, in what could have potentially been a mawkish disaster. However, thanks to Chbosky’s genuine and carefully-woven storytelling techniques – see Perks of Being a Wallflower for proof of such Wonder turns out to be an earnest and a heart-warming tale of kindness, love and understanding.

Meet August ‘Auggie’ Pullman (Tremblay); a ten-year-old boy who was born with a genetic abnormality which has left his face deformed. Having undergone a number of surgeries throughout most of his young life, Auggie’s face is still visibly scarred. His loving parents, Nate (Wilson) and Isabel (Roberts) – who has been homeschooling him up until this point – are worried about how Auggie, who is finally about to start attending a public school, is going to fit in with the rest of the kids.

Excited, but seemingly wary of new kids, Auggie is aware that he will stick out from the crowd. However, after being targeted by a bully, Julian (Gheisar) and several other kids who are seemingly uncomfortable with his appearance, Auggie manages to make a friend in Jack (played by Suburbicon’s young star Noah Jupe) who responds with kindness to the new kid. Meanwhile, Isabel is struggling to adjust to her new routine now that Auggie is at school, older sister, Via (the brilliant Izabela Vidovic)  is dealing with teenage problems of her own.

One of the most appealing things about Wonder is how it manages to avoid the emotional manipulations often found in these types of stories. Authentic and genuine, focus and attention is paid to every step taken and while there are unavoidable moments of mushiness involved – especially in the movie’s overly sentimental ending –  Chbosky makes it easy to forgive and forget. Taking the audience for a walk in the young protagonist’s shoes without ever being pushy or overbearing, it’s not hard to connect to Auggie and the struggles he endures. In addition, the story, which is relatively simple in nature, also manages to offer up a few surprises along the way with the script also turning just enough attention to the other key-characters – especially Via who soon falls for a cute new boy (Nadji Jetter) – offering each of their perspectives into the story told.

Bolstered by a wonderful cast – with Tremblay once again demonstrating his true artistic brilliance even when hiding behind the astronaut’s helmet he acquires throughout the film – Wonder is an entertaining, warm and a genuine film that manages to deliver its message of the importance of kindness and understanding without ever being overly sentimental or melodramatic. Nice job.

Like This? Try

The Elephant Man (1980), Mask (1985), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

360 Tip

In order to prepare for his role, Jacob Tremblay visited a Children's Craniofacial Association where the young star got a chance to meet and befriend children with the portrayed deformity.

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