Stephen Chbosky’s Wonder will be arriving in British cinemas on April 7th, and to say that this film is “one to watch” would be, at least in this writer’s opinion, a huge understatement. To call it “potentially one of the year’s gems” would be far more accurate.
Based on R.J. Palacio’s 2012 novel of the same name, Wonder tells the story of August “Auggie” Pullman, a ten-year old boy with a number of facial deformities, who is about to start school for the first time in his life and face the inevitable judgement of his exterior that will come with his new surroundings and acquaintances. But Auggie is out to teach others that beauty and goodness aren’t just visible qualities, and that you really can’t, and shouldn’t, judge a book by its cover.
A character like Auggie, a simple child with tremendous emotional and psychological struggles, requires a talented actor to bring him to life, so it’s just as well that it will be young Jacob Tremblay (of Room fame) who will portray Auggie on-screen. After his star making turn in Room, Tremblay is the perfect actor to play Auggie and should handily be able to convey the complexities and simplicities of such a character, giving us an endearing and understandable lead. So who’s in alongside him? How does Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Mandy Patinkin and Daveed Diggs sound? Good? Good. Simply put, it’s a cast that sells itself and should be more than enough of a reason to see, and hopefully love, Wonder.
After adapting his own novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower to screen, Stephen Chboksy is perhaps the perfect choice to come on board to direct the project. With Perks, Chbosky masterfully told a story of loss, love, relationships, self-worth and mental health, and it was one of the best movies of the decade (fight me). With Wonder, he has the chance to cover and convey many of the same emotional beats and topics, but it’s not a “you’ve already done this so just do it again” job for the talented director, it’s a chance for Chbosky to further his evident film making talents and capabilities. But Wonder covers the story of more than just one central protagonist, this isn’t just Auggie’s story – it’s also his sister Via’s (played by Izabela Vidovic) story, as well as his parents’ (played by Roberts and Wilson) story, and those of Auggie’s various friends and acquaintances. So it’s not just the same task for Chbosky, there are more plates to keep spinning and a few more mouths to feed, but Chbosky seems more than capable.
There’ll likely not be a dry eye in the house when the credits do eventually roll. Wonder is a life affirming tale of friendship, acceptance and beauty, one that should translate to the screening to great effect, and one that should unquestionably be on your radar for 2017.
Wonder (2017), directed by Stephen Chbosky, is due to be released in the UK by Lionsgate on April 7th. Certificate TBC.