“Wonder,” a story of family and acceptance
“Wonder,” a family drama about acceptance and friendship, premiered on Nov. 17. The film is based on a children’s novel of the same title, written by Raquel J. Palacio. “Wonder” features compelling performances by a great cast, including Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson.
While “Wonder” may initially seem like a typical heartwarming family movie where a boy faces some challenges but overcomes them with the help of some great friends, the trailer may be deceiving for viewers who have not read the book. The film has much more depth than the trailer implies.
The film tells the story of a boy named August “Auggie” Pullman (Tremblay), who was born with a facial deformity, as he begins his first year at school after being home schooled up until fifth grade. Unsurprisingly, Auggie has a difficult time fitting in, as the other children either bully him, stare or avoid him altogether. However, Auggie makes one great friend, starts to love school and everyone lives happily ever after.
Or so it might go in any other feel-good family story.
Instead, Auggie faces ups and downs throughout the movie, which takes place over the course of the school year. He makes a friend, who later denounces him due to peer pressure. He loses his astronaut helmet, which he wears often to feel safe, and is constantly called a “freak” by his classmates.
As if Auggie’s struggles are not enough to make the audience cry, the film highlights the fact he is not the only person who faces hardship. The film is separated into various parts which focus on different characters, including Auggie’s sister Via (Izabela Vidovic), classmate Summer (Millie Davis), Auggie’s best friend Jack Will (Noah Jupe), Via’s boyfriend Justin (Nadji Jeter), and Miranda (Daniella Rose Russell), Via’s childhood friend. Auggie’s parents, Isabel (Roberts) and Nate (Wilson), are also central characters whose perspectives are seen throughout the story.
While Auggie’s life is at the forefront, the segmented plotline emphasizes the fact that he is not alone in this story. For example, the audience sees how Via, who is described as “the most understanding girl in the world,” often falls in her brother’s shadow. When all her parents care about is Auggie’s bad day at school, Via silently struggles to deal with the fact that her lifelong best friend has abandoned her. As the film continues, Via tries to hide more and more from her parents, which ultimately puts a strain on her relationship with her mother.
However, in a simple yet heartbreaking scene of Isabel sitting at the desk where she used to homeschool Auggie, we see that she, too, must adjust to having Auggie at school and away from home.
Each character faces unique challenges which encompass the pains of friendship and family life. Although Auggie’s life is interesting on its own, insight into the views of the other characters in the film makes for a much more complex story. It highlights the reality that no one exists on their own, and that other people have reasons behind their actions that might not be obvious at first glance. While the main themes of this film may be friendship and acceptance, the underlying concept of understanding that everyone has their own story is a key element, making the story compelling and realistic.
Although “Wonder” does provide the satisfaction of a happy ending, viewers should be prepared to shed quite a few tears along the way.