Just back from watching my first cinema movie of the year. The film in question was Wonder, an adaptation of the novel which I was given as prescribed reading a couple of years ago for a workshop on empathy. I'd sort of enjoyed the novel, but also recognised its very obvious manipulativeness and some of the ways in which it fell short of being a genuinely fulfilling read. So I went to watch the film version, in a kind of outing along with the students from our Hall, with some trepidation, in case it turned out to feature the worst kind of emotional blackmail, Hollywood style. In the event it represented the best side of Hollywood manipulativeness, the kind that comes with some degree of genuine heart.
Two ways in which I think the movie proved superior to the book. First of all in its economy. The book tended to milk the potential sentimentality of every scene to the maximum. The film, by virtue of its tighter time-frame I suppose, was on the whole generally restrained, sometimes conveying characters' feelings with real subtlety, and this worked much more powerfully. Secondly, the excellent performances of everyone in the film conveyed a sense of real collaboration. Somehow this served to validate the emotional content. Julia Roberts was sensationally good, but so was everybody else - the kids uniformly so - and the teenage daughter of the central family particularly.
Highly recommended. But the soft-hearted will need to take a box of tissues along.