Based on the New York Times bestselling book of the same name, Wonder makes its way to the big screen with an all-star cast.
In Wonder we follow August ‘Auggie’ Pullman, Jacob Tremblay (Room, The Book Of Henry), a boy with Treacher Collins syndrome, as he makes his way through the fifth grade.
Prior to this, Auggie was home schooled by his mother Isabel, Julia Roberts (Money Monster, Erin Brokovich), and lived with her and his father Nate, Owen Wilson (Bottle Rocket, Midnight In Paris), sister Via, Izabela Vidovic (About A Boy (TV), Homefront) and dog Gidget.
Wonder covers this and so much more as we relive parts of the year through first Auggie’s point of view, then his sisters, then the first boy Jack Will, Noah Jupe (Suburbicon, The Night Manager (TV)), who makes friends with Auggie, then Via’s friend Miranda, Danielle Rose Russell (Pandemic, A Walk Among The Tombstones).
Each time we see events from their point of view, why certain decisions where made and choices took, before it all comes back together again for the big finale.
This allows us to see how the family’s world rotates around Auggie. This can often leave his sister Via to fend for herself or she has plans changed last minute to accommodate him, leaving her out cold. But it also gives the story room to breathe, bringing in some sub plots that show how Auggie touches peoples lives, whether they know it at the time or not.
As you’d expect from a film of this nature, it tugs at the heart strings and does so very well. It’s incredibly moving and passionately put together with superb performances from all.
Tremblay owns the role of Auggie, playing him as self-aware, understanding yet so vulnerable too. At some points he seems old beyond his years but then sometimes he snaps you back to realise they’re just fifth graders.
Take when Auggie overhears Jack telling his other friends some mean things about him. Auggie shuns him, but won’t tell him why and ends up making friends with a girl in his class Summer, Millie Davis (Wishenproof (TV), Orphan Black (TV)), instead. It takes her to break the ice between them.
Roberts is delightful as the mother, bringing warmth and charm. Auggie is her world. Wilson plays the father brilliantly. He brings a lovely warm, light humour to things, whispering advice to Auggie so mom doesn’t hear.
Roberts and Wilson play their roles so well and have such a nice dynamic that it’s a shame we don’t get to see more of them. In particular, we never get to see things from Wilson’s point of view, whilst Roberts has a subplot about finishing her thesis, put on hold for Auggie, Wilson gets naught.
Vidovic plays the lonesome teen in a refreshingly straightforward way. There’s no screaming or slamming of doors, she’s quite matter of fact about the situation, though that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want attention sometimes too.
The children in the story, Jupe, Davis and Bryce Gheisar (A Dog’s Purpose, Into The Who Knows!) as the ‘bad’ kid, are wonderful, adding to the whole heart-warming feeling the entire film gives off.
Whilst all this is Wonderful (see what I did there), it pays not to look too hard at the story. It’s a bit too nice, a bit too convenient at times to be completely believable. Everyone realises the error of their ways (except Gheisar’s parents who are just, wow, unreal) and it all comes good at the end.
It veers dangerously close to being cloying or saccharine at times and I could understand people thinking it ploughs head first into it. But I think enjoy Wonder for the beauty it shows, the loveliness it provides and remember, when given the choice between being right, or being kind. Choose kind.