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Wonder  : Wonderful Christmas Watch
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Friday, December 1, 2017
Drama
Stephen Chbosky
Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Milli Davis, Mandy Patinkin, Daveed Diggs

Movies about the challenged or the disfigured could often turn out to be weepy. But director Stephen Chbosky leaves the viewer with the warm feeling of a well-told fairy tale.

 

Based on a novel of the same name, August Pullman, or Auggie as he’s affectionately called, suffers from a rare syndrome which has left him with facial differences. “This, after a series of corrective plastic surgeries," explains Auggie to a curious schoolmate.  

 

After being homeschooled and thus shielded by his mother Isabel, Auggie’s parents send him toa regular school to prepare him for the real world. Auggie tries to hide his face under a space suit but when he walks into school, father Nate gently pulls off the mask. A touching moment, this little nudge to step out and get real.

 

There’s the initial ostracizing by other kids who can be cruel until Auggie finds a friend in Jack. But there’s heartbreak when he discovers that Jack only pretended to be friends with him and that he would kill himself if he ever looked like Auggie.

 

If there are these heart-tugging moments that moisten the eye, there are also encouraging moves and helping hands. Older sister Olivia, known as Via, has her own emotions to battle. Mom Isabel has her tough moments too, trying to resurrect the career she’d put aside to homeschool Auggie.

 

So while Auggie tries to fit in at school, his family members also have their issues to cope with. Father Nate has to pull himself together and insulate the family from emotional assault. 

 

Sensitively written with superb detailing, Wonder is simple, engaging storytelling that evokes empathy without descending to pity. Though it’s Auggie at the helm, how his predicament impacts each member of the family and those who interact with them, is narrated beautifully. And there are delightful touches too. The school is an important premise with its teachers and a principal who steadfastly refuses to cower under the threats of an arrogant family that ridicules Auggie.

 

Julia Roberts lives the character of Isabel, her infectious laughter brightening many a light moment while her melancholic eyes make the viewer tearyat appropriate moments. Owen Wilson lends dignity and depth to Nate, Auggie’s father. Izabela Vidovic as Via effectively portrays moments of silent strength. But expectedly, Wonder belongs to Jacob Tremblay. "I know I’m not an ordinary 10-year-old," he says as he removes his helmet and reveals his scarred face. From that moment onwards, young Tremblayendears himself to the audience. 

 

For its feel-good richness, Wonder gets a 4* rating.

 

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Senior Journalist & Author
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