(4 / 5)
Wouldn’t life be better if we were all nice to each-other? If we weren’t so shallow and judged people on who they are and not judge them by their outward appearances. Unfortunately we do, but we are capable of seeing through the differences and connect with other’s on similarities and humour.
Wonder is a movie that is aware of how fundamental accepting and kindness is but also painfully knowing of how people seldom follow this. The main focus is a boy named August “Auggie” Pullman that was born with a deformity at birth and has had to have surgeries to help him see and breath but none of them helped him look normal. He has been home-schooled his whole life but when Middle School comes his parents decide to put him in a private school so he can get used to socialising with other children.
Auggie is obviously shy but also smart, particularly with science, he has a particular liking for space travel. Even to the point of wearing an astronaut helmet while walking around. Jacob Trembly acts well with changing his mannerism according to his environment. The makeup is convincingly textured as well as allowing Trembly to act through it.
Nearly everyone in the movie delivers a very solid performance. It is not really surprising but the ones that give the most uneven performances are the children. They are never terrible but they are the ones that need to hit heavier emotional or even comedic moments and fall short of them.
Something that weakens movies like these are when they seek to portray a condition of people and I feel like there is an unexplored or ignored perspective on the characters. Here, it is cut up and puts the narrative in the perspective of one of the other characters. This is a very important thing to do, this movie is about people and so it shows the other perspectives. One of the best is when we learn about Auggie’s sister Olive “Via” (Izabela Vidovic) and then her best friend Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell) I wont spoil it but it greatly hits that emotional beat.
There’s a theme in the movie where Auggie believes he can determine a persons character by their footwear. He looks and assesses three children and is seemingly right, later it’s left to the audience to determine the character of his teacher, then we are given a hint of the character of a photographer. I myself have a variety of different footware for different times, so not only do I not subscribe to this mentality but also this is judgement of someone on the surface level. I don’t know if it’s deliberate irony or just an overlooked story element that is contradictory to the theme of the movie, but it is a detriment.
Director Stephen Chbosky brings charm and wit to the tone of the movie. He skilfully layers the movie with light comedy moments, simple drama and raw emotional moments. He did the same with the view of adolescence in The Perks of Being a Wallflower which I also liked quite a lot.
Wonder tells a story that could be emotionally overblown or tackily manipulative. This strikes a balance of being charming as well as directly looking at the ugly parts of people. It has laughs, cute visuals and probably a few tears for some. It tells its story and delivers it’s message very well.