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Wonder: A coming-of-age film for the whole family

Wonder: A coming-of-age film for the whole family
Montreal - Wednesday, July 19, 2023

by Ishini Fernando

The 2017 movie Wonder, directed by Stephen Chbosky and based on a New York Times bestseller of the same name by R. J. Palacio, centres around August “Auggie” Pullman (played by Jacob Tremblay), who was born with Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS). 

The movie begins with Auggie being enrolled in a private school for his fifth grade after having been homeschooled all his life. Due to the facial abnormalities caused by TCS, Auggie had undergone 27 surgeries in order to see, smell, speak and hear. Attending school proves to be a difficult adjustment for the protagonist as almost immediately upon enrolling, he becomes a victim of appearance-targeted bullying. It is a rough start to the school year when Auggie has to endure jokes and games made at his expense by his classmates. 

Though school seems like torture at first, Auggie soon befriends Jack Will (played by Noah Jupe), and things start looking up. Viewers get to follow Auggie’s journey as he finds his place outside the comfort of his home, while learning to be comfortable in his own skin and accept himself as an individual who often stands out. 

Notably, although the movie was very well received and helped raise awareness of people with craniofacial conditions, some critics feel that the movie makers should have casted an actor with a real facial abnormality rather than using prosthetics and heavy makeup on actor Tremblay. Others feel the movie softened the hardships and other implications of Auggie having been born with TCS in favour of pushing the “feel-good” sentiment of the movie. Still, the coming-of-age film holds all the elements needed for an enjoyable watch, complete with a well-written storyline, a terrific cast and heartfelt moments. 

Overall, Wonder is easily a great choice for a family movie, one that teaches valuable lessons in kindness, friendship and self-acceptance.