Review: Wonder

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With the over-consumption of action movies in recent months, Wonder just arrived in the nick of time to counterbalance the fight and battles. It provides some warmth that simply should be embraced by everyone. Melting our soft spots for this movie can be a rewarding experience. As the melodramatic essence turns the whole cinema into a cry-fest, one of the contributing factors of shedding tears is the universal lesson about physical appearance.

‘I know I’m not an ordinary 10-year-old kid,’ says Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) at the opening scene. Wearing an astronaut’s helmet does not mark any real happiness, but the only way to hide his congenital facial deformity. What happens to him over the course of family and school life is both troubling and triumphant. When being shoved into public school after being home-schooled by his loving mother, Isabel Pullman (Julia Roberts), Auggie faces exceptionally cruel judgements imparted by the society. The process of a scarred young face entering the outer space is undoubtedly driven by reluctance and fear which petrify him from establishing connection to people. But, his defect inadvertently makes him come into contact with the real meaning of our nature. In the world of this film, Wonder probes some life’s issues that one could encounter.

His ugliness testifies the deepest level of humanity—Empathy.

While the present era is mindlessly obsessed with the notion of physical beauty, Auggie’s appearance becomes a reminder that—Look is not everything. The virtues of Auggie: kindness, helpfulness and sense of humour, these internal values have a knack for winning people over. This becomes the approach he builds friendship with Jack Will (Noah Jupe), who initially only pretends to be friend with him, but eventually abandons his prior prejudice and resonates with the authenticity projected by his playmate.

The collective human growth that drives empathy forward also takes place between Auggie and his mother. When the sad-puppy kiddo collapses from bully at school, Robert’s maternal encouragement is a strong injection of familial love. Although it requires gut to watch their conversation as it is portrayed extra earnest, the truth is, the scene prompts us to reconsider the value of family. Because with dreadful hardship, your beloved ones at home inhabit such grace to accept your vulnerability and pain, Roberts convinces us so. Integral to ourselves, the sense of belonging has never felt so real when your family is able to provide concrete consolation in cheering up a poor soul like you:

‘You are not ugly, Auggie,’ his mum tells him when she hears about his endurance of mocking.

‘You just have to say that because you’re my mum,’ he drenched in tears.

‘Because I am your mom it counts the most because I know you the most.’ Her assertion teaches us a little something about storge. It is the inclusivity that makes them care compassionately for one another. Up until this point, I already sobbed into my popcorn.

While much of the attention diverting us into Auggie’s misfortune, being ordinary also has its set of difficulty. For instance, Auggie’s older sister, Via (Izabela Vidovic), we learn from her that everybody feels a sense of isolation and loneliness once in a while but human interest can mitigate this phenomenon.

The obvious bias of Pullman family is Auggie’s primal defects that evoke the parents’ privileged solicitude. Even though Via always plays the role of sensible responder to her little brother’s well-being, Pullman’s parenting skill is unavoidably lopsided to Auggie. When they dwell on his development too much, Via is inadvertently ignored.

I like the narrative structure that not only emphasises the flawed Auggie, but by organising it into different chapters, it helps to flesh out the depth of Via’s struggle—having lower priority for her family over the years. She chooses to reach out to others for gaining a light amount of compensating emotional support. Ironically, her closest friend in the world, Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell) has suddenly stopped talking to her, but midway through, she explains what happened at summer camp that made her turn away. Miranda tells us in voiceover with a touch of guilt: ‘Everyone has his or her reasons,’ the most visceral statement that roars the unexplainable pain of behaving badly. They believe pathos do not simply emerge from nowhere, it’s natural for us to feel isolated and the power of soul-mate can revive your self-worth. Remember, lonely people are all over the world and they need to speak to one another.

Wonder is an effective portrayal of human tale. The film does not fall into the trap of over-mawkishness, it makes you an unsolicited tear-jerker and internalises your emotional see-sawing really well. Praise the educational value to kids, it is a great material to teach them empathy and sympathy. But the resonation comes more organic if you watch it from an adult’s perspective, their performances ring through you with more truth of human being. It’s a film with delicate pacing and a big heart.

 

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Precious

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It still gave me a sudden quiver when you rang me up. Very often, I couldn’t hear your voice clear over my ear, ‘Hey, Andrew’, a little here and there, I always perceived that as a form of tenderness, that I could reciprocate you like a little lamb. My volume was a hide-and-seek game, I was uncertain about you finding the real essence behind our rapid conversations. It was as if in a different dimension from the others, a dimension where I usually entered your car before you raised your head up voluntarily. The waiting was uneasy.

‘What shall we eat today?’

‘You decide,’ I said uncaringly.

‘How about nasi lemak?’

The silence stripped away my agency to speak, realised that words would only be making injury and bickering. I pulled my seatbelt tighter, could not utter an answer. The kind suggestion fetched me back to our fruitful talk on food, in which I remember saying, ‘High-calorie and spicy food could numb my tongue.’ Then you threw a nod as the most understanding partner ever trying to impress my knowledge. After a brief pause, I decided to let my memory remind you of the essential fact about me.

‘I don’t like nasi lemak.’ Polite dismissiveness, my unseeing gaze was directed at your face, that I once thought, a man with a sea of wisdom and sophisticated manner, was your great asset. It was the ambience, I told myself. Trying to rationalise your forgetfulness was a mere trick. Everything I saw in you was of ripeness, which at times seemed difficult for me to comprehend.

Yet, I felt then you knew that I had recognised the simplicity of your actions: eating out, cuddling, talking nonsense and deep stuff together, it somehow became bored to one’s life. You gave my hand a small squeeze and said, ‘We’ll eat something else, okay?’ I turned to face you and all the unworthy perceptions saturated in my mind. What I really wanted was—the keenest stare, showing obvious zeal—and generosity—to win me over.

We drove slowly in the night with the accompaniment of drizzle. The street lamp illuminated the yellowish transparency in the raindrops, almost covered in semi-darkness. There was an unusual stillness in the car, but the rough movement of the windscreen wiper gave a fair substitute to our silence. When my eyelids began fluttering vigorously, I saw a little creature stopped over the car mirror.

‘Waoh, a butterfly,’ I marvelled at its appearance, equally intrigued and surprised. Fumbling, its wings’ were patterned with gold symmetrical lines and a splash of light whiteness stretching out to offer an extraordinary sight. It was harder to notice exactly when it leant its weight on the wet surface that it merged with the darkness to become a speck of milky dream. This was a lovely thing emerged out of nowhere against the rainy backdrop, I thought.

One of us was always curious. Me, usually. Without flashing a sight to the butterfly, but contemplating about the traffic jam ahead with the square-rimmed glasses, his genuine response showed that he wasn’t in the bit least aware of any nuance in my reaction. Perhaps, such thing that came from green nature should not have appeared on a night like this. It did not make any logical sense to him that the beauty of night could afford the unfathomable scenery.

‘Well, is rare isn’t it?’ he said calmly, and I interrupted. ‘Indeed, I have never seen butterfly in the night time’, rolling my eyes at his reserve in speech.

 I extended my neck to stick closer to the window, watching its wings spreading shyly and restlessly, like a child who got lost and trapped in dampness, exhausted, lost in direction, yet preferred to persist some sort of sacrifices. Separated by the glass, I could only admire its survival in a virtual distance. Exhaling a mouth of air, the window fogged up and blurred the view of the butterfly. I rubbed the window with my forefinger and felt strangely empowered and beloved by this rarity.

Half-stammered, I heard his voice frozen and quickly followed by an undulating swallow. His knuckles turned red while gripping the steering wheel.

‘You look very precious tonight.’ He spoke under one’s breath.

The whisper stung me, in his string of words I found a firm hope that we wouldn’t be stuck here long.

‘Precious?’ I blurted, the word, act beyond a babyish pat or an embracement.

My senses were always on alert and denial chewed up my skin automatically. A sour and hot flow of liquid ran through my nostril and overflew my eyes. I shrunk my body against the window. In the reflection, his look superimposed on the rain-bulleted surface, gazing at something that was about to fly away.

 

 

The Feet

 

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He turned off the light like how easily he took off his tight jeans. On the bed, both our faces were tinted with dimness. The sunlight spilled into the windowpane, giving a certain degree of temperature. I raised to draw the curtains then realised my shivering body resembled the naked colour of the curtains.

My palms grasped firmly on the bedsheet while exchanging few mundane questions: ‘How long have you been here?’, ‘Are you a new student?’ I even uttered a curious one: ‘I have never seen you before.’ We spoke in little voice to cease the adrenaline from rushing out of one’s cheeks. Qualm held me no more when he slipped his hand around my waist and mouth brushed mine. Our dynamic of togetherness began rousing wildly on the bridge of the nose, then slithered across our skins. A moment later, he swirled me to another side of the bed and pressed me down with the orchestration of springs.

You’re beautiful.’ Told in a half-gasping tone, he approached my neck and gave it a round of mild peck. My throat dried up and my eyes scanned his rigidly squared chest. We rubbed our body over each other until we were drenched in sweat. The whisper came softly again, ears permeated with a flush of redness, he pulled my body against him closely without any hesitations. My genital became a baby under his full-vein arm. I moaned like a glory.

As a dwarf to his height, I felt intense that he was going to scoop me up in the air. It occurred to me passionately. We began spinning innocently, clinging to his bars of muscle, we’d probably lost ourselves in an imaginary merry-go-round.

‘You have big feet.’ I tilted down my head when I reached the cold ground.

He stopped, grinned broadly and juxtaposed our feet together. We discerned it closely, admiring one another’s considerably lengthy feet. Our eyes met more signally this time. He treated me oddly kind. There was a blurry line between his actions and my palpitation.

Yet, I will never forget the feet. It walked into my room easily and walked out with restlessness.

 

 

 

Stake

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‘Don’t you want to know how I look like?’ Amidst the grids with myriad tribes of men, this message hit me dangerously. The empty profile picture did not have any legitimacy, as well as the question.

The green light notified again while I was descending the stairs. I stopped at my step and peeked across the glass door, blue jeans and white sneaker in the light of campus atmosphere. Without much thought, I opened the door and trod lightly to him.

‘Hi, I am Andrew. Sorry to keep you waiting,’ in a gentle tone, I said.

‘Rudy.’

He flashed a smile inadvertently as if there was no force acting upon such action.

‘Let’s take a walk.’

Surprisingly, my volume of voice was not shaken as serious as I thought it would be. I tilted down my head, walking beside this man who was tall and had enormous warmth in his palm. Seeing my own breath took shape, I set my gaze out to the green field we passed through and both chilled with the air.

‘Shall we go back to your room?’

‘Sure.’

There had been some light breeze crossing over us, it felt strange that the street was devoid of human figures. On the pavement, it appeared his shadow trying to hold my hand.

Rebel

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I was a total stranger to rebellion. To me, being inwardly or outwardly rebel have a distinction. Either way, while the former may be more plausible than the latter for the past me. You would recognise the soft-cheek, shy and obediently good boy kept his image to the others, ironically, he thought he was imposed such responsibility to be polite and respectful. Reaching this age, I wish I could’ve been slightly non-conforming instead of over-giving decency and courtesy. Believe or not, my heart always grows a rebellious root.

My puberty was a pretty secured one. No violence, drug, sex, all the ‘bad’ stuffs that my bespectacled primary school teacher once said, ‘it would lead you astray’. Partly, I received that as a common knowledge, yet, I wondered how the sensations feel like. In fact, we all possess curiosity to experiment things that perk our interest. Those bad kids or teenagers we see, they’re merely being deluded by their actions without thinking any consequences, yes, it got them a filthy life but their courage to against stricture and discipline, I am oddly impressed with their rebellious spirits which I had always long for. 

Transitioning into adulthood, I start experiencing the call of rebel. At times, I have strong will to act against the norm and highly brainwashed by egoism. Do not misunderstand the intention of the rebel calling, it isn’t attempting to convince oneself to execute deeds in extreme manner. In fact, it serves as a form of power to take a leap of faith in doing what you believe is worthy. Of course, the price of being rebellious is the hardship to beat against the high tide of criticisms. In the process of proving this daring vision, we are also able to create, explore and perhaps transform ourselves into a better one.

In other words, isn’t rebellion a great source of momentum in succeeding our goals? If we could live by rebel mantra, just when you have a flight of need to be rebellious, it might be a great self-test.

At the moment, I believe in being rebellious. It is indeed exciting and palpitating.

 

Youth

There comes a time, like now, the golden period of youth which you still possess enough glamour, not getting older everyday with martini and ultra-narcissism. You are living through these richness and neglecting the price of fading. My body lives an old soul telling me that it’s time to be mature and realistic, soon it gets defeated by a rush of farfetched dreams. I am writing it down to remind, remember and realise.

My relationship with pillow is getting distant. The intimate hair smell and messiness you could get when wake up like an old peacock, with disguised loveliness but can hardly move the limbs as the peacock fails spreading its tail. You thought you are still beautiful in bed, but not until your mind suddenly lapses into work crisis that make you nervous later in the daytime. Then, you loath the pillow and get out of bed. This is a strange motivation.

We whine about youth, yet, we just haven’t got old.

The Postures

We have sharp face, when round shrinks it ultimately is.

Body laid out, four limbs like an alien,

powerless and immobile — Death

 

posture

Cling to the legs, waiting for a bouquet of pink roses,

a blossom one, a withered one.

Raise your head to the watery eyes —  Love

 

Either close or open your eyes,

stand still and turn your head,

like a swinging weightless thread — Life