Wonder is the “feel good, then feel sad, then feel good again” movie of the year – directed by Stephen Chbosky and based on the novel of the same name, this touching story stands as an example that adaptations are always possible to do when you have the right team working on the narrative.
In this touching film we are met with Auggie (Jacob Tremblay) – Auggie is a disfigured young boy who is navigating the harshness of the world as he enters school life.
Writer-director Stephen Chbosky’s brilliant work on film dramas is quickly expanding – from his coming-of-age film The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), he has demonstrated his adept skill at portraying realistic emotional reactions and perspectives. I will be the first to admit that I had some doubts about this film – thinking it would be just another formulaic drama with some feel-good moments; I was pleasantly surprised to experience some fairly heavy complexity and structure to this film, from character views I just never expected to see. These multiple perspectives from multiple views make each character feel fleshed out with each having their own quirks and problems, even the smaller characters felt responsive to the story and the events taking place – just when you think a character didn’t have enough history or background the film then goes to a level deeper. Wonder is deeply satisfying and will drag you by the hair through shards of emotion, but don’t worry the shards don’t cut too deep.
All of the portrayals by the mother, father, and sister were all fantastic – though Jacob Tremblay stands as the films focus, his portrayal in this film shows that he is a talent to no end, since his portrayal in the Oscar award winning film Room (2015), Tremblay has shown he can serve hyper realistic emotion for a child of his age and stands tall over many adult actors when really pushing his skills to the limit. The mother of Auggie is played by Julia Roberts; Roberts certainly poured a lot of heart and soul into this role and it becomes evident when her character faces the struggles with her son facing obstacles, her caring nature was a perfect fit for Julia to play. Owen Wilson makes a return after being scarce in the film industry recently and offers up a relatable and caring father figure that dishes out tough love when it’s needed; both of the parents work fluidly in their respective roles. One of the most unexpectedly fantastic performances came from the sister portrayed by Izabela Vidovic named Via. She played a tempered yet timid young girl doing her best to stay out of her parents way so they can support her brother we get some of the film’s most touching scenes with her and seeing a role like hers highlighted was unexpectedly welcomed.
Though many of the visuals were fairly basic we were offered some clean camera-work and standard cinematography, some moments outshine others but the film’s strength lie in its narrative structure – the multiple perspectives given are a breath of fresh air in many ways. This film does drag near the end, just when you think it’s about to finish up, it then continues for another ten minutes or so. Though I enjoyed the entire film there are certainly moments that needed cutting down, scenes with characters that served little purpose and could have been left ambiguous.
Wonder is a film I never expected to enjoy as much as I did, and while it may have far too much optimism for many critics, I found the morals of its story to be refreshing in a sea of dark and gloomy dramas. This film offers a positive message and while not all of it perfectly fits the reality and true harshness of reality it still brings forward an interesting film structure and adapts a novel in a way that anyone could enjoy. If you like a movie that can stir your emotions, look no further. With a solid story and highly relatable characters – Wonder is an emotionally charged roller coaster that brings you to the ups and downs of dealing with life’s obstacles – all from multiple perspectives.