- 4 out of 5
Wonder - a clever structure lifts this above average.
Based on R.J. Palacio's New York Times bestseller, WONDER tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman, (played by Jacob Tremblay) a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time. His parents (Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson) fret that the other children will be cruel to August and they have valid concerns. Meanwhile August's sister (played by Izabella Vidovic) has her own issues to resolve, not least of which is the feeling that she has missed out on parental affection as her parents have focused on August.
I went into this having seen the trailer which set me up for a standard, pull at my heartstrings, optimism overcoming adversity schmaltz. What director Stephen Chbosky has done is craft a sentimental tale however we get to see the same story from differing perspectives: August's sister, Via, Via's friend, and August's school chum. This approach has the effect of explaining perspectives but also acts to pull the viewer deeper into the narrative to create a more coherent understanding.
Did I feel I was being manipulated? Yes. Did I care? No.
This is a heartwarming tale with great performances by Roberts and Wilson - we've come to expect no less from either. The standout is Jacob Tremblay's performance as August. We last sat Tremblay in 2015's Room where he gave a truly outstanding performance. In this film, he is on top form. A definite talent to watch.
You will laugh and you will cry.