Yesterday, I found myself in the movie theatre, hogging a bucket of butter popcorn and sipping coke, trying to wipe off the tears with my salty hands. I was watching ‘Wonder’. I am a firm believer that movies never do justice to books, but I haven’t read the book and people who have, would be a better judge of that, in the meanwhile I can share what I felt about the movie.
The movie, based on the book by the same name by R J Palacio, opens with a scene of a floating astronaut and you are soon transported in the world of Auggie Pullman. Auggie aka August Pullman, in his own words, is an ordinary 5th grader, he bikes, plays games, loves science, he also has a facial disformity. He has been home-schooled all his life, until now. He is soon starting elementary school. New place, new people, a scary place for Auggie, or for any other kid. The viewers then experience how the first day of school was for Auggie, the anxiety his mother goes through, played by the gorgeous Julia Roberts, the advice his father, played by Owen Wilson, gives him and the words of encouragement by his sister, Via (Izabela Vidovic). Witnessing a not-so-great first day of school of Auggie, you witness the same day from his sister’s viewpoint. A first child, entering high school. Her life has somehow taken a backseat, while Auggie is the sun of the Pullman’s universe, Via, comes across as a far-off planet-distant, but still a part of the same universe. Olivia, is a kind, patient, quiet teen who loves her brother but is currently going through her own tumultuous life, coping with the loss of her grandmother, a best friend who is an all-new person since she returned from the summer camp and a mother who has somehow overlooked her daughter, in her attempt to make life easier for her son. The movie takes you through a year in the life of Pullmans, as Auggie makes and loses friends, learns to be a 5th grader, deals with bullying and Via enrolls herself in the theatre club and meets someone special while their mother finally completes her thesis and reconnects with her daughter. You only see Owen Wilson in the background, playing a role he plays best- of a witty, caring 40-year-old dad and husband. The film has more refreshing characters such as the headmaster, Mr. Tushman, played by Mandy Patinkin, the eye-pleasing homeroom teacher, Mr. Browne (Daveed Diggs) who reminded me what it felt to be a teacher in a classroom, and Auggie’s classmates. Jacob Tremblay stands out in his role as August Pullman and hands down wins the show and it is always a pleasure to see Roberts on the screen with her infectious smile. There were many scenes that touched my heart, one is the moment when Isabel Pullman (Julia Roberts) is looking at her daughter performing on stage and remembers the day when her first child wished for a little brother, the scene beautifully captures the love between the mother and daughter. The other scene that moved me is when we see Auggie being defended by the bully of the classroom and later tearing up, knowing that he has finally made a place for himself.
Stephen Chbosky’s movie is a lesson in tolerance, a story of love, life, kindness, growing up and the story of an ordinary family with an extraordinary life.
If I had to give it stars, oh well, I am not a film critic, but I would definitely ask you to watch the film. It’s the kind of a movie that you would watch every time it is playing on the television and you would tear up, only if a little.
There are many precepts in the movie, but there is one quote at the end of the film, by Henry Ward Beecher, about greatness, that stayed with me,
“Greatness lies, not in being strong, but in the right using of strength; and strength is not used rightly when it serves only to carry a man above his fellows for his own solitary glory. He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own.”
What did you think of the movie? Have you seen it yet? How was the book? Leave a comment and let me know.
Also, if you want to buy the book, click here.
And always remember, when given a choice to be right or to be kind, always choose kind.