Unlike other coming-of-age films, “Wonder” is different. While the film may center around the life of one character, its focus on the separate storylines of each person makes for an engaging watch that is relatable for viewers who can identify with the struggles of characters of all age groups.
Adapted from the children’s novel of the same name by R.J. Palacio, the film follows August “Auggie” Pullman, played by Jacob Tremblay, a young boy born with a facial deformity, as he begins public school for the first time after being home-schooled.
While the adversity that Auggie faces is the driving force behind the plot, the film diverges into the storylines of the other characters, such as Auggie’s older sister, Via, played by Izabela Vidovic, and the issues they face during the same timeline.
Directed by Stephen Chbosky, “Wonder” falls in line with similar themes and sentiments explored in his previous work, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” a novel and film about an outcast in high school trying to figure out who he is.
Both stories discuss feeling out of place through unique perspectives that are still relatable due to how common their challenges are amongst all people. The biggest challenge is feeling alone.
While “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” definitely had a specific audience, young teenagers, in mind, “Wonder” appeals to all ages through the vulnerability seen in all of its characters.
Whether it’s Auggie’s parents, played by Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts, or Via’s best friend, played by Danielle Rose Russell, they all, at one point, become vulnerable to the viewer. In this way, it actually feels like the viewer is looking into the lives of everyday people.
That is not to say that other coming-of-age tales fail to engage the viewer in a similar way. However in this case, the message feels more universal, since all of the individual storylines run concurrently together, showing that there is adversity in the lives of all people, no matter how big or small.
There are parts of the film that do not rise to the level of other, more impactful, scenes.
In the scene where Via looks back at the moments shared with her grandmother, it showed great on-screen chemistry between the two actors, however, the actual shot looked awkwardly green-screened.
Other shots, including the ending, seem geared more for younger viewers, rather than for older audiences.
Those small issues, however, do not distract from the emotional impact that the rest of the film has. While “Wonder” may trick the viewer into believing it will just be a children’s movie, it is so much more.