Director: Stephen Chbosky.
Perks of Being a Wallflower director, Stephen Chbosky gives us his visualisation of the titular New York Times bestseller which was written by R.J. Palacio and published back in 2012 about a young boy named August “Auggie” who suffers with Treacher Collins syndrome. A genetic disorder that causes deformities of the face.
Palacio wrote the book after an encounter involving her own young son and a girl who had several facial deformities and was all influenced by Natalie Merchant’s song “Wonder” to which she named the book after. Whilst the film does discuss the disease, it does try to ignore it and focuses on the emotions of the people directly involved and not just concentrating on Auggie.
We follow Auggie as he joins elementary school after being homeschooled by his mother and we see him contend with being accepted as he tries to understand his place in the world. There’s the inevitable difficulties but the film is full of heart and Auggie does become quite the inspiration.
Auggie is superbly played by the young and talented Jacob Tremblay. The same boy from Room and this year’s Book of Henry. It’s great to see him act again, especially in a leading role this time. It must have been trying for him to go through a 90minute session of makeup application before filming. Though Tremblay isn’t the only young star here. Noah Jupe is a worthy mention as he appeared to be getting an equal amount of attention as his co-star, already appearing in this month’s Suburbicon and in next year’s A Quiet Place.
The film is rather vibrant throughout which only enforces my idea that this story, not necessarily the film, is targeted for the younger audiences. I’ve not read the book myself but from the change of narrative throughout it makes me assume the book is intended for children as oppose to adult reading. Some older viewers might draw parallels with 1985’s Mask, especially seeing the premise is very similar. However the outcome and lessons are very different.
Arjen Tuiten has been nominated for an Oscar for his makeup to create a disfigured Auggie. It’s believable though part of me feels it’s done lightly and Tuiten has commented, hoping he had done the book justice. Zarvos does a joyful and uplifting score to accompany the film, again softening the blows of the reality of the situations. I feel this is done purely to be more appealing, or easier to watch.
The story is very well balanced and done so cleverly so, by not telling the story from just from Auggie’s point of view. It explores each of the main characters perspective and seeing how Auggie’s condition and struggles has a direct effect on their own lives. This especially relates to Jupe, his best friend and Auggie’s Sister Via, who is played brilliantly by Izabela Vidovic.
This isn’t to take anything alway from the supporting adult stars of Wilson and Roberts, but the focus is very much on the youngsters and tries to teach some good lessons about friendship, understanding, tolerance and acceptance. Overall the film carries a strong and heartfelt message which should be inspirational to many.
Running Time: 7
The Cast: 8
Job Description: 7
The Extra Bonus Point: 5 for Tremblay and Jupe's performances.