Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Happy New Year's!!! One of my resolutions is to write on the blog more consistently and that starts with this post about one of my absolute FAV movies I saw this past year: The Perks of Being a Wallflower starring Emma Watson and Logan Lerman and based on the critically-acclaimed novel by Stephen Chbosky.

If you haven't seen the movie or read the book, I recommend you do both! I'm always a little skeptical of the translation of a book to a movie and The Perks of Being a Wallflower is written in a series of letters so I was particularly interested how this would be treated in film. Prior to this film my familiarity with Emma Watson was limited to the Harry Potter films and had only seen Logan Lerman in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Could they really take on this kind of indie movie based on a literary cult classic?

Then, I learned that the screenplay was written by Chbosky himself AND he directs the film. And, finally, I saw this trailer and *swoon*

The movie centers around Charlie (Lerman), a self described introvert who is reeling from a summer of seclusion and healing from the suicide of his only friend. Charlie is beginning his freshman year of high school, hoping that things will be different but as the story begins to unfold we still see Charlie watching the people around him live their lives while he loses himself in books and letters to an anonymous friend to whom we never meet. That is until he befriends Patrick and, shortly thereafter, Patrick's step-sister Sam (played by Watson). Charlie is immediately enthralled with them both and their outward, non-apologetic hunger for life and adventure.

Both Patrick and Sam are seniors but they share a kind of kindred spirit with Charlie. Patrick takes Charlie under his wing and Sam and Charlie dance around the sexual tension left between two people always waiting for the other to make the first move. They are all, of course, self-described misfits. (Likely the reason that some reviews have called this "The Breakfast Club of a New Generation" but I won't go there; I'll just say the film accurately portrays the pressures of high school and how equally exciting and isolating self discovery can be.)

Charlie grows a lot as an individual, realizing that sometimes people don't always choose who they should in love, that sometimes it's incredibly freeing to tell the truth than suffocate under it, and that even when people seem carefree like Patrick, we all have our secrets and our own insecurities, just some of us are more forthright with them.

The story tackles many heavy themes from death and suicide to mental illness, physical abuse, and homosexuality. These are balanced with humor, first love, first parties, and a cast of characters so vivid you'd swear they were friends with you too.

Once again, Chbosky does not disappoint. I left the movie theater wanting to go right back in and feeling in love with the cast and the storyline and the cinematography all at once. This works so well because, watching it, the feelings of the characters are raw and real and it taps into something that makes you genuinely care. Bravo!

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