Following his directorial debut with 2012's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky returns with another adaptation of another acclaimed novel; this time, the book in question is Wonder by R.J Palacio.

No, this is not a comic-book film. We've already had our dose of superhero films with "wonder" in the title this year, but Wonder tells the story of August Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) - a boy with facial differences, due to many surgeries and operations over his life - and his family as he enters fifth grade and begins attending a normal school for the first time. Of course, this isn't easy for Auggie and it brings its trials and tribulations but not only for him but his whole family: his sister Via (Izabela Vidovic), as well as his parents (Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts) too, all who are dealing with their own personal issues too.

Wonder, simply put, is, yes, a genuine wonder. This is a film full of awe-inspired wonder. It really is quite wonderful. And whilst the puns are very much intended, there is also truth in the matter that this is a great film. Chbosky, following on from his debut Perks (which, funnily enough, he also wrote the novel of) tells another very personal, character story here and, similarly to his directorial debut, this is a film full of heart and charm and emotion. Lots and lots of emotion. When I say that Wonder is perhaps one of the most emotionally satisfying films I have seen in a long time, I mean that without hyperbole. This film is quite the challenge to watch at times; it really throws its audience through the wringer, so much so that it's quite an emotional workout. But this is a testament to the writing on offer here; the screenplay, adapted by Chboksy and Steve Conrad, does such a stellar job at creating characters and struggles and relations that are so grounded in authenticity and realism. They are people, and they are flawed. There's relatability to that and the film takes its time in establishing the familial dynamic; the history can be felt. It's almost as if we are peering into the real lives of real people, and that's why the emotional punches hit as hard as they do. Because we care so damn much.
This is a film to never pulls its punches either; it consistently keeps beating us down and maintains the level of sincerity throughout. Yes, Wonder is a tear-jerker. But the tears are earned, and, oh boy, will there be tears! Not only through the film's sad moments but in its heartfelt beauty too. It really is a rollercoaster of emotion: from laughter to sadness to moments of joy - Wonder will hit you with it all. The performances are remarkable too; of course, Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts excel as Nate and Isabel, Vidovic gives a tender and raw performance as Via, but this is Tremblay's show. And the young actor is a knockout. Following on from a stunning debut in 2015's Room, Tremblay brings charm, personality and vulnerability to Auggie in a powerhouse performance that is raw, emotion and delivered with thorough conviction. The chemistry between them all, as a family unit, is palpable and comes across as so effortless and so believable and it really adds so much to the proceedings and to these characters, grounded by such great work.

Wonder is not flawless, though. The film has its pacing issues; most especially in the third act, the film drags quite a bit towards its closing scene. There are certain moments and character aspects that are set-up and either rushed or just never really explored at all and it leaves you wanting a little more resolution with certain sub-plots - one, in particular, involving Via and a fellow friend of hers. Also, whilst the film is consistently quite emotional, it's easy to see why this could be a flaw to some. It doesn't leave you a moment to breathe. But, nonetheless, Wonder is a pure joy. It is heartfelt, heart-wrenching, but mostly just so inspiring and beautiful and it will leave you feeling elated, with a smile on your face and, most definitely, a tear in your eye. This is a story of friendship, family and it's grounded by such likeable and real characters and such deep personality that it makes for one of the most enjoyable, emotionally satisfying family films to grace our screens this year.

WONDER OPENS IN U.K CINEMAS ON DECEMBER 1ST, 2017.

VERDICT:
Wonder is one of the most emotionally satisfying films of the year. It's rich with heart, spirit and, yes, a genuine sense of wonder that makes it just so undeniably sincere and touching.

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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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