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Jacob Tremblay (front) plays a boy with facial deformities in Wonder (category I), directed by Stephen Chbosky. Photo: Dale Robinette.

Review | Film review: Wonder – Room star Jacob Tremblay plays a boy with facial deformities in naive feel-good drama

Tremblay plays a 10-year-old boy with Treacher Collins syndrome who attends school for the first time, in a naive, rose-tinted attempt to portray inner beauty that ends up trivialising the hardships faced by the disabled

1/5 stars

From The Elephant Man to The Theory of Everything , cinema regularly adopts the struggles of the disabled to illustrate how true beauty and humanity permeates from within. Many such films have met with acclaim and earned awards for their stars, but Wonder, in which Room ’s child star Jacob Tremblay plays a 10-year-old boy suffering from Treacher Collins syndrome, is flat-out terrible.

Despite extensive reconstructive surgery, Auggie (Tremblay) has severe facial disfigurements and has been home-schooled up to this point. But as he enters fifth grade, Auggie’s parents (Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson) insist he attends a local middle school. There Auggie meets inspirational teachers who always have his back, and classmates willing to accept his appearance and appreciate his intelligence.

Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson play Auggie’s parents in Wonder.

The film looks to coast by on its well-intentioned premise. Auggie lives in an affluent Manhattan neighbourhood and attends a well-funded public school. His well-adjusted family could not be more supportive or devoid of resentment. Even his teenage sister Via (Izabela Vidovic) and her friends love him unconditionally.

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The film’s only genuine antagonists are vile Wall Street elitists who behave despicably to everyone. Put bluntly, Auggie is having it easy in this wretched adaptation of R.J. Palacio’s novel, trivialising the physical, mental and financial hardships faced by many others living with disability.

From left: Wilson, Roberts, Izabela Vidovic, Tremblay, and Danielle Rose Russell in a still from the film.

Wonder’s rose-tinted version of the world, in which Auggie is accepted without question and heralded as a hero among his peers, ultimately paints a naive world view in danger of doing more harm than good to anyone who suffers the misfortune of watching it.

Wonder opens on November 30

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