Wonder, a really wonderful movie is based on a novel.. Acting is superb and features many acclaimed stars. August Pullman, known as Auggie is played by Jacob Trembley who starred in “Room”. Auggie was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome – genetic disorder passed down from a defective gene from each parent, causing severe health issues including facial anomalies. the has undergone multiple surgeries. Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson portray his parents and Isabel Vidodec, his sister Viv.
The film begins when 10 year old Auggie is about to go to school for the first time. He has led a mainly sheltered life and has been homeschooled and overprotected by his loving family. He shares an interest in things that other young boys his age like such as X Box games and he is a fan of Star Wars. So much so that when he goes out he insists on wearing a a toy space helmet. This allows him to pretend and use his imagination and hide from the world to escape the stares, averted eyes and whispers of those who encounter him.
This isn’t just Auggies story. It is also the story of his family. One can feel his parents pain and anguish as they walk him to school that first day. They question themselves “Did they make the right decision to enter him into the public school system?” Viv also walks him to school. She loves her brother but has conflicted emotions. She considers him her best friend but has had to endure taking a back seat over her brothers needs and a part of her is embarrassed by his appearance. This is also the story of his teachers and school administers and the role they must play in preventing bullying. This is a tale of his classmates- their desire to be cool and fit in and why some of them act badly–often the result of poor parenting.
However this is mainly about Auggie and his struggle to blend in. HIs sister tells him ‘You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.” Indeed he does stand out.He has a cute winning smile, he is bright, he learns to forgive, and he has a delightful sense of humour. His friend asks him if he ever considered having plastic surgery? His answer: “This is after plastic surgery. It takes a lot of work to look this good.” This is the story of his initial isolation at school, betrayal by his friend, his forgiveness of him and the eventual acceptance of him by his peers who eventually see past his looks and appreciate him for what he is. He is a wonder.
Although this story is based on a novel, Auggie could be anyone of a multitude of individuals worldwide who is different .This movie should be seen by everyone, particularly school children. In Toronto many teachers are accompanying their students to see “Wonder “ Hopefully this will lead to discussion and food for thought on self acceptance, acceptance of others, inclusion, friendship, forgiveness, looking beyond ones physical appearance , empathy, the unfairness and effects of bullying and how to prevent it. My granddaughter is going with her class to see the movie. I am looking forward to her opinions and discussing it with her.