Auggie is a fifth grader with a rare facial deformity that has resulted in 27 surgeries to help him to eat, breath and speak. The medical interventions have partly improved his condition but is scarred and deformed face leave him subject to stares and whispers from strangers. Auggie hates to be noticed, unlike his sister Oliva (Izabela Vidovic), who feels invisible in the shadow of her brother’s condition and who silently and stoically struggles with personal challenges of her own.
Wonder is a film about being different, and rather than telling the story of a disfigured boy, the film focusses on the far reaching impact of Auggie’s condition on the relationships in his life including his parents, sister, friends, teachers and even his dog.
Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson play the self-sacrificing and doting parents who have protected and home schooled Auggie until now. Having realised that he is ready and able to face the world outside and have the opportunity to experience life as a normal kid, they send him off to a private school where Auggie will need to learn to fend for himself.
This story is beautifully told through a stellar cast. Roberts as Auggie’s mother gives a heart wrenching performance as she sets Auggie off to face the world alone while Mandy Patinkin as the school principal perfectly captures a strong and balanced leader who does his best to guide and protect all of his students.
Jacob Tremblay is well cast in the role of Auggie as is Noah Jupe as his best friend Jack. These are two talented young stars who have brilliantly captured the emotions and nuances of these complex characters.
Based on the bestseller by R.J. Palacio and expertly Directed by Stephen Chbosky this film is not as depressing and confronting as may be expected. Instead of sadness we find joy and instead of the anticipated darkness we are relieved to find hope. Wonder is a beautiful and uplifting film for the whole family with great take-home messages that also make it perfect for the classroom.
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