By Angie Raphael
Few films can make an audience cry consistently for almost two hours and still leave them feeling inspired and uplifted, but that is exactly the experience watching Wonder. Based on the 2012 novel by R. J. Palacio, Wonder is about 10-year-old Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), who has been home-schooled by his mother Isabel (Julia Roberts) because he has a facial deformity even after undergoing many corrective surgeries. But Isabel and Auggie's father Nate (Owen Wilson) decide it is now time to send the boy to school, despite fearing he will be bullied. Meanwhile, Auggie's sister Via (Izabela Vidovic) is struggling with the fact that her family is so focused on Auggie that they have little time to attend to her needs.
The film tastefully explores what it is like for a person living with a disfigurement to go out into the world, constantly feeling like people are horrified to look at them. By making it about children, Wonder is also able to address issues surrounding bullying in schools, as well as the raw honesty of children who find it difficult to hide or filter what they are thinking and feeling. Tremblay is an extraordinary young actor and the other children playing his classmates are also very good. Vidovic is also excellent in her sympathetic role, while Wilson and Roberts add further gravitas to the film. The only criticism I have – and it is a minor one – is that every character is a little too saintly and the plot wraps up too neatly. Regardless, director/co-writer Stephen Chbosky never misses a moment to tug at the heart strings. Wonder is one of the most emotional, heartfelt and sweet films I have ever seen. Children and adults can learn some important lessons from it.