“I am very interested and fascinated how everyone loves each other, but no one really likes each other.” – Stephen Chbosky
(I have been procrastinating way too much lately. This review should’ve been written by me long ago. But then again, it’s never too late for anything. Or so I like to believe.)
For people who claim that movies based on novels never match up to the magic written words can create, here is a fair exception. Perks Of Being A Wallflower is an absolute breakthrough. It is as profound, deeply moving and eccentric as the book. I say this with as much conviction as I can. Having read and watched, I would not be able to separate one from the other. I think the primary reason for this is the author of the book Stephen Chbosky is also the director of this wonderful coming-of-age high-school teenage drama.
The movie’s star cast is so fitting. You have Logan Lerman (Charlie) playing an anxious, emotional, lonely and unsure boy with a troubled past and a history of mental illness. There is Emma Watson (Sam) who plays a strong-headed, self-opinionated, affectionate, smart and sassy senior. Ezra Miller (Patrick) stars alongside Emma Watson as her step-brother and all-time companion.
Already, I can feel my pulse quickening. That is the effect this movie had on me. The actors have brilliantly portrayed their characters, so much so that one hour through this movie you feel like you’ve known these people forever. Emma Watson has left Hogwarts and transcended into college, Logan Lerman has no traces of Percy Jackson and what should I say about Ezra Miller… No words that I use will be good enough to compliment his acting abilities. Who would’ve thought he would make such a brilliant Patrick after playing a sociopath in ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’.
Perks Of Being A Wallflower is a retro, American high-school indie movie set in the 1990s. Although this is not stated per se in the movie, from the nostalgic, dreamy, soft rock music that the three teenagers base their lives around, any person with functioning hearing ability can figure that out. Much of my 2013 playlist are songs from this movie.
That was a suitable background and now I will delve further. This movie, as the title goes, is about the pros of being a Wallflower. A Wallflower is someone who silently observes and does not like being the centre of attraction or in this case the centre of anything. They could easily pass as a mere painting on the wall without anyone ever bothering to look twice. And I’m sure; we have all been Wallflowers at some point in our lives.
The Wallflower here is Charlie. A young freshman about to start his first year at high school. We get to know more about Charlie from the letters he pens to an anonymous friend. Charlie is an aspiring writer, full of potential, loved dearly by his parents and sister (Nina Dobrev). In any teenager’s life, friends are very important. As adults, many of us will refute that. I am 19 and I already do.
Charlie, having just resurfaced from a tragic instance in his past sets out to make a brand new start to his high school year. Enter Patrick and Sam, and everything suddenly transforms for Charlie. Charlie goes through the highs of having crushes and trying drugs to the extreme lows of watching the person you love, love someone they don’t deserve. It is with Sam that Charlie starts listening to ‘different’ music and explores the facets of unrequited love; it is with Patrick that Charlie learns that it’s about being yourself no matter what anyone labels you as, even if that means only being ‘below average’. It is with Mary Elizabeth that Charlie learns about relationships and sex. It is with Professor Billy that Charlie expands his writing potential. It is with his sister he learns about what it is like to be abused by the one you love, but deep down he already knew that. With his aunt, who is no more; he has constant haunting visions of who she was and what she did to him. But ultimately it is with himself that he realizes what and who he needs to grow as a person and become who he ought to be.
Halfway through the movie, when everyone including the audience is deeply entangled in the plot, I had a sudden pang of fear that Perks would lose its essence, the beautiful build-up would just crash and burn like most clichéd American high-school crushes. But fortunately, it didn’t. There are scenes which are so awfully relatable you will wonder if you just heard the strings in your heart snap.
The ‘90s party sequences, the mesmerizing drives through the Tunnel, Secret Santa, The Living Room Routine, Sam and Charlie’s study sessions, The Rocky Horror Show, Patrick’s nuisances in shop class, and Sam’s laughter are what stays with you till the end of this daze.
Perks Of Being A Wallflower is a movie very close to my heart. This might not have seemed like a review and more of an exemplary praise from someone who is oblivious to noticing any kind of flaws. But that’s what you do to something or someone so close to you, you don’t point out their shortcomings. You embrace them. You fondle them and put them to rest. Perks was very well received from the critics and masses but there were some who claimed it was not convincing. What those people need to do is let down their guard for a mere few hours and watch the movie all over again. I’m sure that would help.
For others who haven’t watched it at least 10 times, here is something to lure you.
Watch this movie and swear that in that moment, we were infinite.