The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Film)

This review is a bit late already. I’m supposed to write my review for The Perks of Being a Wallflower after I watched the film early this month but for some reason I only got the time to do sit down on it today. I’ve been thinking of skipping writing my thoughts actually, but finally decided to still post since I believe that a movie like this deserves a spot on the blog.

For those who have read my review for the book in here, you all know that I really like the novel where this film is based. And knowing that the film is written and directed by the author, Stephen Chbosky makes me more excited for the adaptation. And as expected, Stephen Chbosky deliver a close adaptation of his book. Even some of the major scenes didn’t make to the final cut, the film still manage to deliver the same edge and depth of the book. It captures the darkness and optimism of the novel with some additional surprises.

The story focus on Charlie (Logan Lerman) as he explores high school life. From the start of the movie you will see him counting down the days until graduation. Being socially awkward with no friends at the start of his freshman year, he is a typical wallflower who is contented in watching life as it goes on. Until he met Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller), who encourage him to participate in life and be part of a group. As he managed to join the circle of Sam and Patrick friends he also discover bits and pieces of himself. One step at a time he uncover his past and the mystery behind his awkward and unique personality.

But more than the twist and turns of the story, The Perks of the Wallflower is a character development piece at its core. Stephen Chbosky reveals Charlie’s depth and mystery one layer at a time. And even if the story only focus on Charlie, it still manage to show how the other characters undergo emotional and painful discoveries in their life. They are all on the edge of their emotions trying to understand life, find love, acceptance, and their place in this world.

I’ve seen Logan Lerman in a couple of his movies like The Percy Jackson and The Three Musketeers. And those movies doesn’t really approved in my taste, which makes Logan Lerman not so much an impressive actor for me. But after watching him as Charlie in this film, I can’t hep but see the depth of his acting ability. This movie makes me believe that Logan Lerman is an actor to watch out for. I think he did a great job delivering the intensity of Charlie’s character. As Charlie, his innocence is so believable and each emotions, awkwardness and shyness he shows are utterly convincing. From the subtle way he dance, to the dorky way he tries to act confident, and to the intense freak-out moments he shows. I didn’t expect to feel Charlie’s pains and confusions more than I feel when I’m reading the book. Lorgan Lerman really surprised me in this film.

Emma Watson as Sam is solid. I’ve been looking forward seeing her in a different role other than the brainy Hermoine of Harry Potter films and she didn’t fail to deliver a fresh character in my eyes even her character isn’t that huge.

Ezra Miller as the happy-go-lucky gay Patrick is simply plausible. He can easily steal the scenes with his vibrant personality. He brings energy and humor to the film without overshadowing the sadness and pain of his character. I didn’t imagined Patrick character to be that loud as he portray it but I think he excel in his job.

Visually, the film is a treat to the eye. It may not have the vibrant colorful of sci-fi films but it has a touch of classic in it. As if I am really watching a 90’s film. It offers a light and clean atmosphere that contrast the heavy dramatic and emotional scenes of the story. The background music and theme songs were also carefully chosen. Even there are some changes from the original songs used in the book, it still perfectly fit to each and every scenes and moments of the film.

“How can you be so happy and so sad all at once?”

That quote above is one of Charlie’s line from the film, which perfectly describes how I feel about the film as a whole. It leaves me happy and sad all at one. I may not always relate with Charlie or with the other characters in the movie but I can certainly appreciate the dramatic weight of their pain, struggles and confusions.

Whether you’ve read the book or not, this film is a must watch. It is a close adaptation of the novel that shows a sincere and emotional representation of teenager life. A film that is full of heavy scenes and dark themes but also has an incredible heart and great sense of humor. It leaves me with a heavy feeling, almost teary eyes and a smile of satisfaction after watching.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

“It’s much easier not to know things sometimes.”

Standing on the fringes of life… offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

Personal Thoughts:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of those books that’s been sitting on my shelves for years. I’ve been hesitant starting this one, because even before I got my copy I already have a lot of expectations from this book. Being branded as “powerful and deeply affecting coming-of-age story” I expected this book to move me after I’m done reading. But based on experience high-expectation doesn’t always serves me right in reading. Most of the times it ruins my reading experience, so I know I need to extract those expectations first in order to fairly experience this book. So, after few years and with the film adaptation coming out, I finally decided to dive in.

The story is presented in letter format written by the main character, Charlie to an anonymous friend. This friend is someone readers never get to know except that he/she is older than Charlie and in fact an adult. I actually tried to be clever, working out who the mysterious friend is but obviously I failed. Stephen Chbosky didn’t confirm who is the recipient of Charlie’s letters. Anyway, back to Charlie, his letters consist of everyday experiences during his freshmen year in high school which he start writing after his best friend, Micheal commits suicide. In there he talks about his nervousness in starting school, his lack of friends, his extra homework from his English teacher, his crushes, his family and anything he feels writing. Through his letters, we get to know Charlie as a shy, sweet, polite teenager but highly sensitive and socially awkward. It easy to see how detached he is by the way he tell his stories. Being different as he is, he tried to ‘participate’ in life and tried to understand other people around him. He gain friends and life experiences. He deals with many different issues that later pushed him to recognized and accepts changes in his own life and understand other people around him.

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

As a character, Charlie is simply endearing especially when he is so naive. Even I can’t relate much with him, I still understand his struggles and pains in growing up. The way he tells his story through each letter has personal touch that makes it easy to see the world in his eyes. Even his voice is a bit detached, it is still easy to feel each and every emotions he went through. The feeling of isolation and trying to blend in to everyone around him is so raw and real, that I want Charlie to finally find where he really belongs. I want him fit in, find friends who will accept him for who he is and understand his struggles. And more than anything else, I want to see him live and be his own person.

Even with so much sensitive themes like drugs, cigarettes, homosexuality, rape, violence, suicide and abortion, the story never felt too much to read. As if all those things can really happen around to one teenager like Charlie. Everything that happened to him and around him, contribute to what & who he is now. But in the end, what really stands out were not those heavy & heart wrenching events but Charlie. Charlie with his sweet innocence and wisdom makes this book plausible.

The big twist in the end is something I didn’t expect. It is briefly describe in the book but the impact is nevertheless powerful. I’m not sure how other teenager will handle that but I like that Charlie is so hopeful in his situation after the revelation. I like that he didn’t blame anyone, not even the person who I think should be blame. His logic and reasoning simply bemuse me.

“It’s like if I blamed my aunt Helen, I would have to blame her dad for hitting her and the friend of the family that fooled around with her when she was little. And the person that fooled around with him. And God for not stopping all this and things that are much worse. And I did do that for a while, but then I just couldn’t anymore. Because it wasn’t going anywhere. Because it wasn’t the point.”

Just like the story told by Charlie’s doctor about the two brothers whose dad was a bad alcoholic, where one brother become successful & never drank and the other brother end up like dad who drinks a lot, it’s all about choices. Our choice sets us different from other people. Like Charlie we have a choice, a choice to move on with our life or to just stay in our past and consume ourselves with old ghost. Maybe we can’t choose to change the past but we can choose our future.

“So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.”

Somehow this book reminds me of my own high school life. Charlie and I may not have the same path of growing up, nor the same experiences but he still reminds me of what it is like to be a teenager. At some point while reading I missed my best friend and I remember some of my teachers and mentors. I also smiles reminiscing parties, dates and other high school experiences. Charlie’s experiences isn’t that far from everyone’s experiences, his struggles, pain and confusions is something we all went through one moment in our life.

Through The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky perfectly captures the high and lows of growing up. It is not particularly life changing as I’d expect it to be but nevertheless it is thought-provoking and genuinely great read. A raw and gripping story that has a timeless quality in it. With Charlie’s charming innocence you will want to find your own life experiences that will make you feel infinite and make you want to choose your own path in life.