Stephen Chbosky brings a warm-hearted drama to 'Wonder'


Wonder ★★★ 1/2

The trailers for Wonder were worrisome, making it look like a mawkish tear-jerker designed to exploit Julia Roberts’ glassy eyes and megawatt smile as she plays Isabel Pullman, mother of a sweet 10-year-old named Auggie (Jacob Tremblay, the talented star of 2015’s Room), a boy who’s had to endure 27 operations to deal with a facial deformity. But you should have faith in filmmaker Stephen Chbosky, who made a splash with The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the semi-autobiographical high school drama he adapted from his own novel. Now, he’s working from someone else’s novel, a best-seller by R.J. Palacio that has transitioned splendidly to the big screen. Auggie has been home-schooled by his loving mom who’s sacrificed her dreams to raise the physically and emotionally scarred young science nerd, to the detriment of her neglected older daughter, Via (Izabela Vidovic from TV’s About a Boy). But everyone’s lives are about to change, now that Isabel and her husband Nate (Owen Wilson) have made the difficult decision to enroll Auggie in fifth grade with other children, a prospect that terrifies all of them. Kids can be cruel, after all. Chbosky displays a great amount of empathy for all of his characters, presenting his warm-hearted drama—a rallying call against bullying—as a true ensemble piece, one that surprises with its constantly evolving point of view and shifting narrations that provide a deeper understanding of everyone involved. Bring tissues. (At Assembly RowBoston Common, Fenway and in the suburbs.) 

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