December 06, 2017 Movies

They say leave the best till last – and with the year nearly at a close this heartwarming gem is one of 2017’s stand-outs.

Very rarely does a film put a lump in my throat, but this family drama manages to do just that – but not necessarily in the way expected.

Based on the New York Times bestseller, this up-and-down tale tells the inspiring story of August ‘Auggie’ Pullman – played by Jacob Tremblay who received critical acclaim next to Brie Larson’s Oscar-winning turn in Room – a boy with facial differences from New York’s Manhattan who’s attending mainstream elementary school for the first time.

 

While his disfigurements – caused by a genetic anomaly – aren’t on an Eric Stoltz in Mask-level, the petrified boy has to hide behind a NASA astronaut helmet while out with his doting parents, Isabel (Julia Roberts) and Nate (Owen Wilson), afraid of people glaring at him.

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But the movie throws a refreshing curveball by not just focusing on the woes of his terrifying introduction to school life, but that of his shunned (but still loving) older sister Via (IzabelaVidovic), her ex-best friend who’s trying to get over her parents break-up Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell), and Auggie’s academically-challenged best buddy Jack (Noah Jupe) – which proves everyone has varying degrees of problems in life.

Unsurprisingly the main storyline tract still centres on Auggie as he battles bullying – primarily from Bryce Gheisar’s Julian – but keeps his integrity intact as he stays true to himself, and shows he’s a science whizz in the process. As well as also being a massive Star Wars and Boba Fett fan.

And it’s through these multiple peaks and troughs that it borders on being a tear-jerker in a light-hearted fist-pumping way, as much as a ‘let’s all feel sorry for Auggie’ kind of way, which the film could have easily hidden behind.

It might fall a touch short of being an Oscar-contender due to some elements not quite being fleshed-out enough and being a touch too sentimental in spells, but for the most part the director of The Perks of Being a Wallflower gets the balance between drama and ‘mushiness’ spot on.

And by the end it will leave you grinning wonderfully from ear-to-ear as the CV of the barely recognisable Tremblay continues to grow with another noteworthy outing that is a welcome relief from blockbuster overload.

Gavin Miller

Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Izabela Vidovic, Noah Jupe, Danielle Rose Russell, Nadji Jeter, Bryce Gheisar, Daveed Diggs, Millie Davis & Mandy Patinkin

Running Time: 1 Hr 53 Mins

Director: Stephen Chbosky 

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