Currents Winter 2018; Vol. 34, No. 1 - Page 24

In Hamburg Film Reviews and more... Wonder (Wunder) ***** USA 2017 Opening January 25, 2018 Directed by: Steven Chbosky Writing credits: Stephen Chbosky, Steven Conrad, Jack Thorne, R.J. Palacio Principal actors: Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Mandy Patinkin, Izabela Vidovic, Daveed Diggs, Bryce Ghei- sar, Millie Davis Steven Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) directs R.J. Palacio’s same-titled 2012 children’s book about overcoming a disability, inspired by a personal incident and Wonder, Natalie Merchant’s song. Following his trademark epistolary storytell- ing style, Chbosky lets Auggie tell his story; main characters provide their perspective for the bigger picture: best friend and older sister Via, Jack (Noah Jupe), Auggie’s new friend, and Via’s best friend Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell). Chbosky 24 American Women’s Club of Hamburg and co-writers Steven Conrad and Jack Thorne’s screenplay respects the book’s integrity. Auggie (Tremblay) might like ordinary things, but knows he is not an ordinary kid. Nor his family: Mom (Roberts), Dad (Wilson), 5-years-older Olivia (Vidovic) and Daisy the dog. Their love is hon- est, fierce, and enduring: at the center of their tight universe is Auggie. Although born with facial malformations—Treach- er Collins syndrome, Auggie is bright and plucky, aiming for the moon. Scary though, is being enrolled at the main- stream Beecher Prep school this year. Fifth-grade. Home-schooled to date, Isa- bel’s resolve offsets Nate’s hesitation. Mr. Tushman (Patinkin), Beecher’s director, is kindly, encouraging and welcoming to Auggie. But people, especially children’s depth for cruelty is tough and Auggie strains to cope with the open staring, whispers and giggling, and bullying. As the year progresses, we learn others are also struggling with new challenges to conquer, or be conquered by. Winsome depictions from the strong cast, particularly Tremblay, Roberts and Wilson, deliver likeable characters. As- tutely editing, Mark Livolsi packs a lot in. Meriting recognition for their impec- cable work is cinematographer Don Bur- gess, Marcelo Zarvos’ music, and Arjen Tuiten, special makeup designer: Auggie Pullman. There are so many levels for ev- ery age to learn from, importantly that of (not) fitting in: “You can’t blend in when you’re meant to stand out.” Because re- member, “no one’s ordinary” just as a standing ovation is worth its weight in gold. Sentimental yet not soppy, Wonder is fran