Wonder – A Review

Wonder Movie PosterStephen Chbosky directs Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay and Izabela Vidovic in Chbosky’s second adaptation of a NewYork Times best seller in Wonder. Previously Chbosky directed his own novel “Perks of being a wallflower”.  Wonder is a novel by R.J Palacio.

 

The story of Wonder focuses on August “Auggie” Pullman, a 10-year old who’s been home-schooled by his mother Isabel played by Julia Roberts. Auggie is not like other 10-year olds he has facial deformities which cause people to stare at him and make cruel jokes. The story focuses on the first year at middle school where Auggie, where he crushes the science tests and makes new friends. Julia Roberts is wonderfully restrained as Isabel and Owen Wilson as Auggie’s father Nate is perfectly complementary as he brings a lightness to the proceedings. Izabela Vidovic as Auggie’s sister is also brilliant in her supporting role. Jacob Tremblay who blew the audiences away in 2016’s Room is beyond brilliant in this movie. You feel every emotion Auggie feels. You feel your eyes well up when the other kids are mean to Auggie and he retreats to his room and puts on his Astronaut helmet and you feel a catch in your throat when Auggie makes friends and experiences things that any normal 10-year old should. The other stand out for me is Noah Jupe who plays Jack Wills Auggie’s best friend – this kid is destined for stardom there is a natural ease about him and he lights up every scene he is in.

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The thing that stood out for me with Chbosky’s Perks was the sensitivity with which he treated all his characters. Given that he was adapting his own novel you’d expect him to do a fantastic job. But it is testament to Chbosky’s commitment to telling organic authentic stories that he incorporates the small details that make the movie stand out. The moment Jack Will’s mom tells Jack about why it is important for him to take Auggie on the tour of the school is why R.J.Palacio wrote the novel in the first place. The story telling from the different points of views, the focus on kids more than the A-list adults and the natural ease with which the kids seem to come alive on screen is a rare gift. Most talented directs have a maxim – never work with kids and dogs. Chbosky is the exception he seems to extract the best out of the kids and also Daisy the dog. Every single scene delivers an emotional punch without being manipulative.

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In an almost faultless movie the Miranda story seems a bit of a throw-away. It is a wonderful story arc no doubt – but what might have been greatly fleshed out in the novel itself seems a bit contrived and rushed on screen. But even this minor misstep is overcome by the conversation Miranda has with Auggie.

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Do not miss this for anything in the world! In a world full of bad news this is 113 minutes of pure unadulterated joy and innocence. We all deserve a good cry once in a while, especially when they are tears of happiness.

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The Bling Ring – A Review

Sofia Coppola directs Katie Chang, Emma Watson, Israel Broussard in The Bling Ring based off the article published in the Vanity Fair Magazine about the series of burglaries that hit the Hollywood It set.

This movie serves as my introduction to Coppola whose work has been vastly admired and something that I have been meaning to get into but just haven’t been able to.  And on first viewing it is easy to dismiss The Bling Ring as a social commentary on the vapid celebrity driven culture that is currently plaguing America (and many others). But Coppola is a brilliant director who has created a layered movie with each character having being written so effortlessly and so accurately that it feels intimate the more you think about it.

The opening shot of Emma Watson going on a rant that if taken out of context would not be very different from those hilarious videos of the pageant queens stumbling through answers. But when that moment actually arrives in the movie you realize the portrait of a fragile young girl who has self-image issues and is trying to overcome those by seeking the attention in the worst possible ways.

Of the cast every single one of them is competent and does a fantastic job of being despicable young adults, Katie Chang as Rebecca the ring leader, Israel Broussard as Marc , Claire Julien as Chloe, Emma Watson as Nicki. Katie Chang reminds me of Ellen Paige from Hard Candy and that is a fantastic comparison to have.

The styling of these individuals is impeccable and seems to jump right off the pages of the magazines. And the scenes are framed beautifully. The late Harris Savides who previously captured the dark monotones of Zodiac and American Gangsters collaborates here with Christopher Blauvelt to ring a airy Californian vibe to the entire proceeding

I do have one gripe with the movie though – the scenes of robbery do get repetitive after the first two and maybe the third could have been shown through just the news clippings or could have been avoided completely till the final reveal when Nicki shares a prison cell with Lohan. The movie sticks closely to the article in Vanity Fair and I wish a little more time was spent on the characters outside of the nightclubs and the fancy dresses because they make for very interesting character studies.

I would highly recommend this movie as not only a social commentary on the cultural depravity that is ruining the youth with gossip sites and magazines and unhealthy body image  but also as a wonderful foray into psyche of the young people who have fallen prey to this madness.