Wonder (2017)

STEPHEN CHBOSKY

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5.  USA/, 2017.  , , , .  Screenplay by Stephen Chbosky, , , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 2017.  

A little boy born with notable facial disfigurement (played under heavy but effective makeup by ) is being sent to middle school after years of being home-schooled by his mom ().  She and dad  are, naturally, very hesitant about the idea, terrified of how children will react to their son but understanding that getting him out into the world is something that he needs.  Tremblay’s fantasies about astronauts and Chewbacca help him stay positive through his first days of stares, taunting from bullies and lonely lunches, but eventually he makes friends and starts to find what seems like his groove.  At home, his older sister is becoming more honest with herself about the resentment she feels towards her brother’s constantly being prioritized above her, experiencing a drama with a close friend that she keeps from her concerned parents almost out of spite.  Stephen Chbosky follows his erratic and unfocused Perks of Being A Wallflower with another film that seeks to excuse its narrative messiness with an overemphasis on The Feels, seeming to want to be about real problems but emphasizing a lot of Child Star acting and home life scenes that are filmed like television commercials.  The story changes narrators to show us that everyone has a completely different perspective and their own hills to climb, that life is more complex than a film whose story favours one character’s path to a happy ending.  It is, however, a film, and it does have to end sometime, opting for Tremblay’s happy ending and leaving the sequences that focus on other characters feeling like disingenuous distractions and not explorations of alternate points of view.  Roberts is wonderful as a woman who is both extremely vulnerable and extremely intelligent, and watching her trying to be both at the same time makes for the film’s most poignant moments, more than making up for the fact that Tremblay, true-hearted and sweet as he is, is allowed to express quite a lot by the flexible makeup but seems to have little to offer beyond either whispering or shrieking his lines.  as his schoolchum is noticeably more sympathetic, while as the class bully is written as an unintelligent stereotype; his mother’s one scene is the best example of how poorly observed this movie is, practically ticking items off a list of Bad Modern Parent flaws every time she opens her mouth.  Sonia Braga appears in a lovely cameo.

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