CLEVELAND, Ohio – It isn’t every day that a movie offers an unflinching, painful, but ultimately gratifying glimpse into the lives of young people.
“Wonder” is such a movie, following a 10-year-old boy with a facial deformity as he embarks into fifth grade at a brick-and-mortar school after years of homeschooling.
It’s a movie parents should considering taking their children to, as it provides a severe but manageable look at the ultimate consequences of bullying by giving its audience a thoughtful look at the unique cruelty of children, who don’t fully grasp the repercussions of their actions for themselves and their peers.
The movie also has ties to Northeast Ohio. Todd Lieberman, one of the producers, graduated from the Hawken School.
Julie Roberts and Owen Wilson play the boy’s parents, and they both turn in a solid performance. But they’re easily overshadowed by an impressive turn from the young Jacob Tremblay.
Tremblay portrays August “Auggie” Pullman, whose face is ravaged at birth by a physical deformity and the multiple surgeries required to help him breathe and eat.
Both adults and children tend to recoil in disgust from Auggie, despite his sweet and tender nature. Children are the worst offenders, he says, because they aren’t as skilled at hiding their feelings. Auggie mostly looks at their shoes to hide his gaze from their looks of revulsion.
Auggie’s favorite holiday? Halloween because it provides an excuse to conceal his appearance and grants the mistreated boy the anonymity that eludes him every other day of the year.
But because life paints an intricate portrait, “Wonder” also follows Auggie’s sister Olivia (“Via” to her friends and loved ones), his friend Jack, and Via’s sort-of best friend Miranda.
Auggie is teased relentlessly for his appearance, especially by trust-fund kid Julian. But in a testament to the tangled webs of friendship that wind their way through school social circles, Julian is also friends with Jack. And Jack is…