First Hit: This film was incredibly touching and wonderful to watch.
From the get go, I was totally taken away and transported into a wide-ranging realm of feelings and emotions. Wearing a NASA space helmet is how we are introduced to Auggie, August Pullman (Jason Tremblay). Because we know Auggie has a facial deformity we want to see what he looks like.
Helping the audience engage and look at themselves, early in the film, Auggie’s mother Isabel (Julia Roberts) tells Auggie that everyone has scars from living their life.
The first moment I was deeply touched by the depth of what Auggie was going to deal with was his first day of school. He had been homeschooled by his mom and going into the 5th grade was to be his first foyer into the public-school system.
As his dad Nate (Owen Wilson), Isabel, and sister Via (Izabela Vidovic) walk him to the front of school, the audience can feel the anxious anticipation of his helmet removal and seeing all the kids stare at him with a somewhat shocked look in their faces.
The first day is hell for him, no one really talks to him and a rumor begins that if someone touches him, they’ll get the plague. I felt for him deeply as he was ignored. Slowly he gains one friend, Jack Will (Noah Jupe), because Auggie helps him with a science pop-quiz.
In the meantime, the film takes time and develops Via who is ignored by her family most of her life because of Auggie’s circumstance. Another way this film adds to its depth is by doing short 5 minute segments about specific people in the film including Via, Jack and Via’s close friend Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell). It was smart and done in an effective manner.
The film really focuses on the dynamics that the family deals with not just Auggie’s struggle.
As Auggie finds his footing in school his classmates begin to see his depth and personality, which opens the door for his life to become more socially whole.
Tremblay was amazing as Auggie. He exemplified the struggle a young boy with this deformity would have to deal with. Roberts was, divine. Her laugh, smile and tears of both sadness and joy come across as genuine. She doesn’t do a lot of movies these days, so to get a chance to see her is wonderful. Wilson is great as Auggie’s father. Vidovic was sublime as Auggie’s sister. She embodied the young capable daughter finding her own way as her family focuses on her brother. The play she stars in encapsulated the story perfectly. Jupe was superb as the first young boy to reach out to Auggie. Millie Davis (plays school mate Summer) was like her character’s name “Summer.” Russell was really good as Via’s friend who had to find her way back into the Pullman’s family. Mandy Patinkin as the school principle Mr. Tushman was amazing. We all needed a principle like him in our lives. Stephen Chbosky, Steve Conrad, and Jack Thorne wrote a strong and effective screenplay. Director Chbosky got amazing performances from everyone.
Overall: This was a truly wonderful story turned into a touching film.