Wonder ⭐⭐⭐½

Much like Paddington 2 recently (but with less furry creatures and more convincing narrative plotting), this is another cosy and charming film for the family that advocates tolerance and kindness. Based on a YA bestseller, on the surface this is about Auggie, a 10 year old boy with facial deformities attending preparatory school for the first time after years of home-schooling. As expected, he experiences hardships and friendships, tears and laughter; and if you have seen the trailer, you’d think that’s all there is to it. Thankfully, the film is clever enough to widen its scope to include points of view from his neglected sister and his schoolmates and it becomes not just about one individual but a bunch of young people trying to fit in, in various ways and forms. Stephen Chboksy’s film is full of humour, aspirations and sentiments that are well judged and do not come across as lazy writing. Jacob Tremblay proves he is no one hit wonder after Room and his Auggie is funny and touching. He leads a cast of likeable and unprecocious young actors who are all a joy to watch, while Julia Roberts supports with her million wattage star presence, but always allowing her younger co-stars to shine around her. Even Owen Wilson is decent and that’s saying something. Perhaps part of the story may feel lighter than feather or too on the nose and admittedly this is a world where everything, from the school to the Brownstone they live in, is idealized but as far from reality as this may be to many viewers, it is also a relatable and tender film that is heartfelt without being saccharine and maudlin – and that’s rather wonderful, isn’t it?

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