As big of a fan as I was of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I was eagerly waiting to watch Wonder ever since the trailer released. So when Netflix notified me that Wonder was coming to Netflix on 1st October, I knew I had to get right to it.
Coming back to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, there is a similar feel to certain elements in Wonder. Stephen Chbosky seems to have mastered that particular feel-good vibe – a shy kid, in his formative years, suddenly experiencing what it is like to have friends for the first time ever and coming into his own.
We have August (Auggie) Pullman, a now-ten-year-old born with physical deformities who is left with a permanently scarred face despite his 27 surgeries to make him look normal. But things are changing for him now since he is going to a normal school like a normal child for the first time in his life. Despite a super supportive family, August has his own insecurities about his appearances and is understandably scared about going to school. He wears an astronaut’s helmet whenever he goes around people so he can avoid being stared at due to his looks. Auggie is small but he knows that it is the singular, most noticeable thing about him that keeps people maintain their distance from him. Maybe he knows it a bit too well.
The movie shows us, above all, that it is not just other people who keep away from Auggie because of his appearances, but in fact, Auggie himself is obsessed with it. Via, his sister, mentions repeatedly how he puts everything, irrespective of whether or not it has anything to do with him, on his deformities. The movie shows us how Auggie is not the only one who is affected because of his condition, but also how everyone else in his life is as well. The movie show us how people are not just mean and horrible, but there are great and kind people as well.
We meet Via (Auggie’s sister), Isabel and Nate (Auggie and Via’s parents), Miranda (Via’s best friend), Jack and Summer (Auggie’s friends). We learn how each of their lives is influenced by Auggie’s. Via is his elder sister/best friend who constantly looks after Auggie and helps him whenever he feels low. She is an unselfish teenager who loves her brother despite his condition forcing their parents to prioritise their attention to the son. She is a child who has grown up too soon and yet has the maturity to not put blame for her situations and reality on anyone else, including and especially her brother. She craves for her parents’ attention but never competes for it. We meet Miranda, who used to be Via’s best friend. Only now that she is in high school and pretends to not notice when Via comes around. It feels like a typical character wherein she becomes popular in high-school and stops hanging out with her friends. Like the Susan from Perks of Being a Wallflower. However, upon closer inspection, we see how she not that typical mean girl. That she actually envies Via and misses her and Auggie both. Jack and Summer are both Auggie’s friend, although the former does at one instance succumb to the peer pressure and makes mean remarks about Auggie. Thankfully, he soon sees the error in his ways and make amends.
We see Auggie’s parents who have given him a good and a happy life. We see Auggie himself who is a very likeable, smart beyond his years and a slightly insecure and sometimes self-obsessed kid. But that amount of self-obsession is justified given his circumstances and his age. We see the teachers, who are kind and supportive to Auggie. We see him come into his own, deal with his issues, evolve into a better person by the end of the film. But with it, we also see people around him work upon themselves simultaneously. We see that it takes an army of people to make or break someone’s self-confidence and someone’s entire life. In this movie, we see positivity and we see empathy and genuineness and kindness and care. We see guilt and forgiveness. We see rising above…