Wonder Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson are fantastic in this powerful drama but the star is Jacob Tremblay, who manages to open up the hearts of the audience.
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Izabela Vidovic, Noah Jupe, Bryce Gheisar, Nadji Jeter, Danielle Rose Russell, Millie Davis, Elle McKinnon, Daveed Diggs, Ty Consiglio, Kyle Breitkopf & Mandy Patinkin.
Run Time: 113 min.
US Release: 17 November 2017
UK Release: 01 December 2017
German Release: 25 January 2018
Stephen Chbosky, writer and director of the great drama The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the director of Wonder. It is an adaptation of the book of the same name, written by author Raquel Jaramillo under the pseudonym R.J. Palacio. I was looking forward to seeing this film, as I read the book beforehand and was absolutely fascinated by its premise and the understanding of societal issues, which Palacio described in detail. Chbosky, together with writer Stephen Conrad, proved once again to be capable of transforming a book into a great script and directed a brilliant feel-good flick.
August ‘Auggie’ Pullman (Tremblay) was born with a rare facial deformity that has prevented him to go to a normal school. This changes, when his parents (Roberts & Owen) decide to enrol him in 5th grade at Beecher Prep School. As his new classmates and the larger community struggle to accept Auggie and the way he looks, the boy manages to surprise with intelligence, heart and wit. While mean, Auggie’s sister Olivia (Vidovic) is going through some struggles herself.
Wonder mostly stays true to the novel, with the exception of some of the heavier story-threads, which are toned down for the movie. A shame because it could have given it more depth and a bigger emotional punch. Other than that, this is a marvellous scripted piece with a great message for the audience - young and old - a reason why this adaptation works so well! I find it important to have films like these screening in theatres, as it teaches about flaws in our society, in this case the issue of perceptive beauty, as in the end, it is not about the way we look but what we do that finally defines us. It also touches upon the fact that making jokes about someone might emotionally hurt them no matter how harmless.
One of the biggest positives the script has is that even though the narrative is focused on Auggie, it also explores how he himself as a person has effects on the life of others, which ironically enough is also touched upon the last scene before the screen fades to black. Seeing the wider picture from different characters perspective does widen the emotional spectrum, making it easier to reach the viewers’ emotions.
This takes me to the only issue I have storywise. While it explores several side plots and concentrates on those characters point of views, at least two of those arcs are left without real resolution but are simply brushed over.
This is Jacob Tremblay's movie and he plays the role of Auggie to perfection. He showcased his skill as an actor in Room and knocks it out of the park once again in this picture. Auggie himself is a really intriguing character and the reason why this tale works so well. He is burdened by his appearance and the way it makes others feel, yet he has so much energy and love, which affects his family and friends around him. I was really astounded at the effect the character had on me!
Izabela Vidovic plays Auggie’s sister Oliva ‘Via’ Pullman, adding another astounding performance to this adaptation. I only had one problem with Via’s arc, bringing me back to what I mentioned before about unfinished side-stories. Along the first 30 to 40 minutes we get to see what the Pullman family is like from Olivia’s eyes, as well as opening up to the viewer about feeling sidelined. That arc is never closed though.
Julia Roberts is as always phenomenal; her appearance as Isabel Pullman was charismatic and empathetic and Owen Wilson gives one of his best performances since Midnight in Paris. The way he went on to play Nate Pullman was warm and relatable, teaching Auggie about how the world works and giving him advice. He also has impeccable chemistry with Roberts but what I did respect the most, is that both actors never tried to steal the show from Jacob Tremblay, knowing that he is the star of this drama.
Wonder looks simple but gorgeous from a cinematographic standpoint. It contains a couple of scenes that use camera-trickery, which I found to be highly effective. These are when Auggie fantasizes about being someone else while being at school, especially during his first day. The sequences playing in reality, are more centred on Auggie with the other children staring at him, blurred into the background. Those that play in his fantasy are wider shots that include Auggie and his schoolmates. I also liked the colours used, they are strong and vivid and don’t get me started on the great job done by the makeup department.
Verdict: For a drama, this is one hell of a feel-good flick! The plot, adapted from R.J. Palacio’s novel, has a beautiful and important message about perception and interior ugliness that resides in each one of us. The narrative, but especially the characters, managed to pull heavily at my heartstrings and the performances by Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson are some of the best I have seen in awhile. The true stars, though, are the child actors who are all tremendous, especially the performance by Jacob Tremblay. The only issues I have, are the downplaying of some of the book’s dramatic points as well as the arcs of some of the side characters, which aren’t properly rounded up. This is one of the better book adaptations I have seen in recent years, which is why I will give Wonder a 9.0 out of 10.
If you haven’t seen this film yet than do me a favour and go see it in cinemas. It is worth your time! Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this review, don’t forget to like and share.