<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Stephen Chbosky. Starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Izabela Vidovic, Noah Jupe, Mandy Patinkin, Daveed Diggs, Sonia Braga, Danielle Rose Russell, Nadji Jeter, Bryce Gheisar, Millie Davis
Running time: 1 hour 53 minutes
Wonder is the story of a boy who is different. But it’s also the story of the people who orbit this boy’s life and shows us how we all have struggles of our own that influence they way we behave.
Little Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) prefers space. He loves Star Wars. He is smarter than most kids. And his amazing parents Isabel (Julia Roberts) and Nate (Owen Wilson) and sister Olivia (Izabela Vidovic) dote on him. Perhaps he’s so special to them because of his facial anomaly. Home schooled though he is, he is keenly aware of how people react to him when they see him. Some are repulsed, others just stare and look away and then stare again. He understands why they do it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hurtful. But he’s found ways to get around it.
At school he has an understanding Principal (Mandy Patinkin) who enlists some of the kids to help Auggie ‘adjust’ to his new surroundings. Some of them take to his humour and genuine niceness. Others are, predictably, not so thrilled with him.
You’d assume the whole film would be about Auggie and his struggle to fit in. But Wonder takes a surprising turn after the initial segment that introduces him to his new universe. We get to see life from the points of view of his family, friends and people who are affected by him. What’s it like for Auggie’s sister Olivia to be the child who doesn’t get much attention? If everything is about Auggie, then where does that leave her? This complete picture of what the characters in the film are going through helps us see things in more than just one dimension. It gives us perspective on why people behave the way they do, rather than just introducing us to clichés. It also shows how Auggie, as different as he is, isn’t the only one going through difficulties because of his deformity.
What’s great about Auggie is that he doesn’t come across as a victim. We see him as a hero from the beginning. He doesn’t need saving. It’s actually all the people around him that are saved because of his positive attitude and his ability to understand that he’s not the one with the worse problems in the world.
Wonder is a feel-good film that tugs at your heart and is designed to be a tearjerker. But it’s emotionally intelligent and unique in the way it’s constructed.
And it’s always a pleasure to watch Julia Roberts perform.