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Little Champ

Saturday, December 02, 2017
By Deepa Gahlot

Stephen Chbosky
Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and others
Rating: * * * 1/2

Jacob Tremblay is an amazingly talented kid who has worked in films like 'Room', 'Before I Wake' and 'Book Of Henry'. In Stephen Chbosky’s 'Wonder', he plays a boy with facial deformities and gives a performance that holds the heart-tugging film together.

In the film based on a book by R J Palaci, he plays Auggie Pullman, a brave boy who has undergone numerous surgeries for his congenital disfigurement, but still has a face that is lop-sided and looks sewn together. In a culture that worships looks above all, an ‘ugly’ face can prove to be a problem in adjusting to the society with other kids, who can be as thoughtlessly cruel.

Ugliness, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder and Tremblay makes Auggie so endearing that after the first wince, you don’t find his looks distracting. The film does not set out to disturb, however, is designed as a story of compassion without any mawkish excesses.

Till he is 10, Auggie is tutored by his mother Isabel (Julia Roberts), but she and Auggie’s father Nate (Owen Wilson) decide that he has to go to a proper school at some point and interact with others; after all, he can’t live in the isolation forever.

The other kids at the school that he joins, treat him like a freak, and that is hard on a kid, especially one used to the love and sensitivity of his parents and sister Via (Izabela Vidoovic), who has teenage problems of her own. The kindness of his teachers is as remarkable as the courage of the kind who is so self-aware that he can bury his anguish under humour.

Even though the film is meant to make you feel good within, there is something sincere about the emotions it portrays; the relationships and betrayals. Of course, Auggie is a hero and there is no taking that courage away from him.

This is a film that parents should see with their kids so that they can learn that normal can mean different things to different people and that a person’s appearance cannot be the only yardstick for his/her personality.

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