User Rating: [Total: 1 Average: 5/5]
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Izabela Vidovic, Julia Robberts, Owen Wilson, Noah Dupe, Danielle Rose Russell and a very special appearance by “Chewbacca”
Wonder is a journey which takes you on a feelings train and leaves you in a feel-good wonderland. Rarely do you come across a movie which is perfect, where from the story to the story telling, the cast to the acting to the music, everything being stitched up perfectly.
The story is about August “Auggie” Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) who is born with a rare medical facial deformity which required 27 surgeries to make him breathe, eat, see and hear normally but still looks like “The Elephant Man” and his struggle to blend in with other “normal” kids. August is a science geek with a love for Star Wars. He is witty, funny and extremely jovial. He has been home schooled by his mother till the 4th grade and now has to go to school and thats where the movie starts. He has always been conscious of his appearance and wears a helmet to avoid the constant gaze of the onlookers. But he cant hide behind the helmet now- he has to go out in the world and adjust with other kids his own age, deal with being different and hence being left out, being bullied, making new friends (and new enemies!) and the happiness and heartache that comes with friendship and its fights.
Jacob Tremblay is an immensely talented actor who has such poise that you would not stop looking at that face even though its badly disfigured. Its a very natural portrayal of a 10 year old boy- not only his different-ness from other kids but also the same-ness – the need to be accepted and have friends and the temper tantrums, moodiness on bad days.
August has very loving parents in Isabel (Julia Roberts) and Nate (Owen Wilson) who have sacrificed a lot for him, Isabel in particular who has put her career on hold and has never given up on him. Julia Roberts is an accomplished actor and it shows- every emotion comes naturally to her as heart-in-her-mouth she pushes her baby bird out of the nest and out in the world to fly. Owen Wilson is a loving father who brings a lot of casualness and calm to the family.
But the best character of the family and in fact the whole film is of Auggie’s big sister Via(Izabela Vidovic). Given the fact that her brother is special and would require the entire attention of the parents, she has to grow alone and grow fast. Yes she craves for that attention as being a kid herself but she doesn’t throw tantrum or whine about it, she just moves on with her life while still loving her family and her brother. Its a beautiful role and played equally beautifully by Izabela- you just want to hold her and shower her all the love. She confirms the adage that elder sisters are always special and are the 2nd mums.
Apart from them there is Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell)- Via’s former best friend. Her arc from ignoring Via to the sudden make up feels contrived. Jack’s (Noah Dupe) character is sweet- he is the only/genuine friend of Auggie at first. Their friendship, break up and subsequent patch up over Minecraft are absolutely adorable moments of the movie. Then there is Julian(Bryce Gheisar)- the popular kid and the resident bully- though admittedly the bullying isn’t as vicious as you’d expect going into the movie.
I liked the way the Wonder was told- first some incidents have happened and then everyone explains their point of view, detailing out their character in this way. This technique has been employed in the shots too where Auggie’s first day in school is shown (in sideways angle) and there are lots of students buzzing around Auggie just to be revealed from a top shot that none of them are near Auggie and he is actually ostracized and alone. When the script and the direction matches to that detail you know its a special movie.
The movie has some very empathetic and important dialogues, I like this one in particular:
“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind”
The message of Wonder is that everyone is busy fighting their fight and all you need is a little patience. Watch this movie. Feel Good. Call up old friends. And most importantly “Be Kind”.