It's taken me a couple of days to come up with the right words to express the experience that is The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I'm still finding myself kind of speechless.
Stephen Chbosky directs this adaptation of his own, best-selling, banned book The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which may explain why it's such an effective adaptation. While there were some changes to the film, as there usually is with a book-to-screen transfer, Chbosky was able to keep the overall emotions and atmosphere that the book so greatly projects.
Set in the eponymous early 1990's Pittsburgh, Wallflower follows high school freshman/wannabe writer Charlie during, what will become, a huge defining year of his life. He's starting somewhere new without his best friend. He's finding himself. He's dealing with internal pains. He's somewhat mature for his age, but this effects his transition even more. From friendships to relationships, parties to drugs and alcohol, innocence and lack-thereof, it's not about what the experiences are, but more about how each person develops thanks to the experiences.
It wouldn't make sense to call this film a "teen angst" movie because it's more than just a emo high school film. It's not even really fair to cal it emo. In reality, this is a movie that evokes many different emotions and feelings for each different person who watches. It's the rare film about teens that doesn't rely on off-color sex jokes and sight gags. Instead it relies on truths and honesty, something that's hard to find in this type of picture nowadays.
When I read the book I was captivated with how well Chbosky was able to word things. I connected with Charlie and, still kind of feel like we're one in the same. I've talked to other people who felt similarly, but for different reasons. Chbosky is a voice of not only the typical young person, but of everyone who used to be a young person; because whether we admit it or not, the feelings and emotions never change. We're just expected to react differently as we get older.
The movie isn't a special effects powerhouse or the smartest, groundbreaking film ever, in regards to the technical aspects. It shines, however, in it's incredibly written screenplay and unbelievably accurate performances. Newcomer Logan Lerman shines as Charlie with enough charm to evoke a liking and following, and enough hurt to bring the audience on the journey with him. Harry Potter's Emma Watson scraps her English accent for a very believable American one. She, as Charlie's new friend and love interest Sam, is a steady voice through the uncertain times. We Need to Talk About Kevin's Ezra Miller steals the show in some aspects as flamboyant extrovert Patrick, who hides his feelings underneath his class clownery. In a small, but pivotal role, Paul Rudd plays Charlie's English teacher, who provides Charlie with some of the best inspiration and advice he'll ever receive. The oft-quoted line from the book only rings truer once it's replayed in the film.
"We accept the love we think we deserve."
Don't miss this.
Runtime: 103 minutes