Movie Review: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
By Alejandra Ortega
To be completely honest with this review, I must first admit that I had been waiting for the film version of Stephen Chbosky’s novel, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” for five years. Yes, five years. They first announced they were going to adapt the novel my senior year in high school. So, I may be biased in my opinion.
Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly picky when it comes to adapting novels for the big screen. Unfortunately, in this time of unoriginal screenplays, there are a lot of books being turned into movies. But, for “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” it was a long time coming.
The novel is a perfect blend of introversion and the awkwardness of being a teenager. Set in the ’90s, Charlie (Logan Lerman, “3:10 to Yuma”, “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightening Thief”) starts the first day of high school with a horrible summer behind him. His best friend just committed suicide, he feels invisible and as if he cannot depend on anyone he knows, including his family. Written in a series of letters to an anonymous “friend”, Charlie discusses his efforts in “participating”, the new books his English teacher (played by Paul Rudd, “Role Models”, “I Love you, Man”) gives him, music and life. After making friends with Sam (Emma Watson, “Harry Potter”) and her step-brother Patrick (Ezra Miller, “We Need to Talk About Kevin”), Charlie is introduced to new people and new experiences. What follows is the course of Charlie’s freshman year: getting high, first dates, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and all the things he sees as a wallflower in his new group of friends.
Luckily, for those of us who adore the banned novel, not only was the screenplay adaption written by Chbosky, but the film was also directed by him. It’s the triple whammy of ideal book-lover films. The writer adapts and directs. What could possibly go wrong?
Short from a few slow parts, nothing. The film version of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” does the book complete justice. It puts a face to the characters we love, with a rounded cast that completely delivers perfectly. Chbosky even goes so far as to further add depth to characters such as Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” – as in the original cartoon, not the film). As expected, some details are cut from the book. However, they will not be missed. The way Chbosky visually presents Charlie’s growth until the eventual, expected ending, is absolutely perfect.
Even if you have never read the novel – which I highly suggest you do – you won’t feel confused or as if you are missing something. The film assumes you never read the novel and instead focuses on catering to all viewers. It takes the serious topics of suicide, homophobia, molestation and everyday teenage angst, and makes it something every viewer can understand and relate to.