Movie Review: Wonder
Directors: Steven Chbosky
Starring:Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson, Julia Roberts, Noah Jupe, and Mandy Patinkin, and Izabela Vidovic .
Release Date: 27th October 2017Based on the New York Times bestseller, WONDER tells the story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time ever. – courtesy of IMDB
You’re a Wonder
It’s been five years since Stephen Chbosky’s feature film directorial debut with the fantastic adaptation of his very own novel, The Perks of being a Wallflower, which was not only one of the best coming of age films of the decade, but perhaps ever made.
He proved himself as a talented Director to watch and now he’s back with Wonder, another coming of age movie. Now adapting another author’s work, would Chbosky’s first film prove to be a one off success, or does he truly have a knack of bringing stories to the big screen?
Wonder really is a great film. Although it’s main cast may be children, the film handles mature themes with bluntness and a lack of the usual condescension that would alienate older audiences. It’s a smart movie and tells life how it is, unafraid of pulling punches for the sake of pushing all of the feel good buttons that these types of movies tend to do. That’s not to say that this film isn’t feel good, in fact it’s utterly heart-warming, but it’s through the decisions of tackling difficult subject matters and the choices of not shying away from harsh truths that results in a wonderfully human story of tolerance, acceptance, and love, without soaking in pure sentimentality for the sake of it.
The aesthetic at times may say “day-time soap opera”, but if you’re able to get past the sometimes overly polished visuals which can come across as “cookie-cutter”, then you’re in for a treat. By not only focusing on our main character, Auggie, and his struggles to find acceptance in the school ground, but to also include branching narratives from his friends, his sister, his sisters friends; we have a story which has multiple layers and a world that feels grounded. Like life, there are so many elements in hand and it’s easy to avoid seeing others as complex people with their own situations and emotions at play. It’s easy to forget how one single event can have many different outcomes for different people. Wonder does a fantastic job of fleshing out its characters to create a bigger sense of believability, to really sell the joys and hardships that these characters face every day.
Whether casting directors are getting better, or there is a genuine surge of great young child actors cropping up all over the place, Hollywood has seen dozens of great examples this year and Wonder is no exception. Also proving he’s not a one hit wonder, young actor, Jacob Tremblay, from the utterly compelling masterpiece Room, pulls off another convincing and surprisingly mature performance as Auggie. He’s funny, charming, can sell the frustration and anguish, and holds and overall brilliant screen presence. The supporting cast of kids also do a great job – they don’t feel like they’re acting, which is usually the downside of child actors. Thankfully it’s not a concern here. The other cast members that really stand out are Auggie’s parents played by Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts, two actors that again, you wouldn’t usually assume would be the ones to stand out. They both play their roles like they’ve lived in them. You buy the worry, the fear, the love, and the fact that they are viable figureheads for the family. They have a great chemistry with not only Auggie and his sister, but with one another, which helps to highlight the struggles of parenthood and maintaining a marriage.
"A wonderfully human story of tolerance, acceptance, and love."
If there’s one thing that I could bring up as a negative, it’d be that Wonder feels a touch too long. In fact, the movie feels as if it’s about to conclude, only to have another fifteen minutes or so added on to the end. Whilst throwing me off a little, it’s not like this ending is a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, in fact they hold some of the best scenes in the entire film. It feels like an extended edition of a theatrical cut, or as if another episode has automatically began playing in your Netflix cue, catching you off guard.
Wonder crafts the weight of its emotions almost perfectly. The scene by the river at the camp, or when Owen Wilson declares to Auggie that he “wants to see his son’s face” are just a couple of the many instances that are subtly constructed to make a deep and meaningful impact. A sweet, complex, simultaneously heart-warming and wrenching movie, with the added potential of changing aspects and viewpoints on how we treat the differences of others around us, Wonder is a wonderful family film that doesn’t patronise or bore the audience with tired clichés. It’s tightly made, hypnotic cinema. Chbosky you’ve done it again.
+ Fantastic family drama
+ Great acting and Intelligent storytelling
- Third act over stays welcome