Why do I and everyone I love pick people who treat us like we’re nothing?
We accept the love we think we deserve.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age, comedy-drama directed and written by Stephen Chbosky and based on his own epistolary novel from 1999 of the same title. It is a privilege only few people enjoy. And he has done a good job. It’s not often when a book to movie adaptation is as good as the book itself, if not better. He was aided by a young cast that was nothing short of perfect including the likes of Emma Watson (Harry Potter), Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson), Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk about Kevin) and Mae Whitman (Vampire Diaries) who also helped in providing a firm footing among the youth. The direction is great and he provides some of the most lovable and downright honest characters with whom the audience can really connect. The movie was produced by Summit Entertainment and the music was given by Michael Brooks. The songs in the movie are very well-selected. Songs like Heroes by David Bowie, Come on Eileen by The Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Asleep by The Smiths enhance a lot of the scenes in a really good way. Heroes made the Tunnel scene one of the most memorable scenes and something that could give you goose bumps.
The movie is about an introverted high school freshman, Charlie, who also has some mental issues and writes letters to an unnamed “Dear Friend” chronicling his life. He enters high school tremulously, scared and alone after his eight grade friend Michael apparently committed suicide. He is faced by the ubiquitous high school crisis – which friends would he make. He is then discovered by “the island of misfit toys”, a group of eccentric seniors who take pride in their non-conformist ways led by Patrick and Sam. They rescue him from his deep insecurity and help him cope with his depression after the loss of his only friend. They help him “feel infinite” by giving him recognition and a sense of belonging. He is also guided by his English teacher Mr. Anderson who gave him somebody to confide in and provided him with seminal books. Along the way Charlie helps his friends, gets drugged, falls in love, has a nervous breakdown and discovers that “we accept the love we think we deserve”.
We are infinite.
Logan Lerman’s portrayal of Charlie is amazing. He exhibits the introverted nature and lack of confidence that defines Charlie while also showing glimmer of his underlying eagerness and larger problems. The moments where he is scared and seeing things are gems. The slightly dreamy look is always present in him which is very suggestive of his mental condition.
Ezra Miller’s Patrick is easily the standout character with all his wit, playfulness, charisma and energy. He is tall, gangly and gay. He is like the cool kid in school, organizing pranks, making fun of teachers in an honest and good way. Along with all of the over-the-top moments of levity, he also has the most insightful and demanding story arcs which Miller handles pretty well. There is no wonder why most of the other characters consider him their leader and look up to him.
It’s really nice to see Emma Watson outside of a Harry Potter role. She puts in a great performance with very good facial expressions that would make you admire her all the more. She brings the kind of vulnerability, friendliness and lovability associated with Sam’s character. The concerns she had for Charlie, her underlying love for Charlie and the burden of her past are very well emulated by Emma Watson.
Paul Rudd as Charlie’s English teacher is also good although he doesn’t get a lot of screen time. The few dialogues and scenes he has, he has played really good. He comes off as caring, warm and gentle. The kind of teacher we all would want and look up to. And he also gave us something to live by, “We accept the love we think we deserve”.
Dad, can I have 30 dollars?
20 dollars? What do you need 10 dollars for?
And coming on to technical details, the cinematography was good. There are some good sequences like the “Secret Santa”. The locker to locker switching of scenes looks interesting and gives a certain pace and energy to it. The scenes we see from Charlie’s perspective are novel. But there are some discontinuities too in the first quarter of the film like the abrupt changes between the school and football match. The lighting was very well done, keeping it a little dark and vintage, giving the feeling of the darker themes and suggestive of the 1990s. Dialogues were well written with a lot of funny lines thrown here and there, especially by Patrick. And it gave a lot of memorable quotes too. Acting and the cast was impeccable.
On the whole, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming of age story with slight comedy that will appeal to almost everyone who appreciates stories. Good direction by Chbosky ensures that the people who haven’t read the book don’t feel left out. It is a thoughtful teen drama.
I would easily recommend this to you. A good pick to watch with your better half. Grown-ups would also love the movie and connect a lot with them and remind them of their adolescent days. If you still feel unsure about it, head on below and watch the trailer:
See the soundtrack listing at IMDb here.