Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Running Time: 113 mins
Wonder is an American film about August Pullman, a young boy with facial differences who enrols in school for the first time at fifth grade.
This is a really uplifting film. While its story could have turned out overly dour and depressing, or excessively cheesy and ‘inspiring’, Wonder hits the spot, with a down-to-earth, kind-hearted, riveting and most of all heartwarming story, furthered by a collection of excellent performances that make the characters just as relatable and moving as the story itself.
First off, while the film’s premise may centre on a young boy who struggles with normal life because of his facial deformities, the main point of the film isn’t really anything to do with that. Of course, there’s an element of the situation at hand that makes the young boy’s story quite a bit more moving, but what’s really good about Wonder is that it’s a film more about persistence, friendship and mutual kindness, a story that will warm even the coldest of hearts.
And that’s why I really loved this film. Stephen Chbosky does a fantastic job at hitting the mark when it comes to creating an appropriate atmosphere for the story at hand. While the film features some deeply emotional drama throughout, it’s just as suitable for younger viewers to enjoy as well as adults, because the film sheds so much light on the positive aspects of the situation at hand, making it as wonderful and pleasant a watch as it is riveting and emotionally captivating.
What’s more is that the film really keeps its feet on the ground when telling its story. As I said earlier, it’s a premise that could have made for a really depressing story had the opportunity been taken, or the complete opposite, as a generic and cheesy story that masquerades as ‘inspiring’ rather than anything else.
However, from start to finish, the story looks at all aspects around the young boy’s situation. While he is undoubtedly the centre of the story, and his triumph over a difficult start to school life is moving, his sister, his friends and his parents all receive a surprising amount of focus in the story, widening the emotional scope and allowing the film to work as a more well-rounded and relatable family piece, rather than just watching the triumph of one person alone.
Another plus comes in the form of the performances on show here. Jacob Tremblay was impressive in his debut film Room, but he really brings some impressive depth to his character here, and not only makes you feel for the young boy as he struggles, but also learn a lot about his character, which is in all truth just a young kid wanting to live a normal life like everyone else.
Alongside Tremblay is Julia Roberts as the mother, who really holds her own in a much smaller, but still riveting and very likable role, while supporting players including Noah Jupe, Izabela Vidovic and Owen Wilson all bring more realistic and believable emotion and drama to the story, reinforcing the collection of fascinating stories on display here, while all of their likable personalities help the film feel all the more heartwarming.
Wonder is an undoubtedly wonderful film, save for one small flaw that makes it an occasionally less-than-exceptional watch. Given that the story takes place in a school, and centres around a young boy trying to settle in, the main story is a little bit predictable in truth. While the characters and specific situation make it more interesting than normal, you can easily see the main ups and downs of his friendships and the like coming a few miles off, and that’s occasionally a little disappointing. However, the film’s final act deviates from the school formula a little, and brings a much deeper level of emotion, allowing for a fantastic finish.
Overall, I really liked Wonder. Not only is it an uplifting and inspiring tale, but it’s a down-to-earth, riveting and emotionally enthralling movie featuring a collection of great performances and very strong direction that allows it to be a truly heartwarming story for all ages, and that’s why I’m giving it an 8.0.