Synopsis: A funny and touching coming-of-age story based on the beloved best-selling novel by Stephen Chbosky, THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER is a modern classic that captures the dizzying highs and crushing lows of growing up. Starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller, THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER is a moving tale of love, loss, fear and hope-and the unforgettable friends that help us through life.
eyelights: true-to-life scenarios. excellent soundtrack.
eyesores: the somewhat ambiguous era.
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
I went into ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ with very few expectations. I had heard that it was good, but was in no way pulled by it. Which, I recognize, means very little because many exceptional films haven’t pulled me in at all; sometimes, the only way to see them is to just give in to them.
So, give in to ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ I did.
I immediately related to the protagonist in some ways: I was also the kid in high school who kept to himself, read a bunch of books and felt disconnected from things around me. I understood his needs and desires to a certain extent, and that helped me get right into the story.
Admittedly, there are differences: I didn’t let myself get picked on (mind you, I never went to a school as fraught with peer abuse as this one is), and easily made friends with the other low-level outcasts – I wasn’t nearly as clueless as to how to go about it as Charlie is in the picture.
But I also shared his struggles with depression. While the reasons for his are left unclear until the very end, it was another connecting piece for me. What I never experienced, however, was hospital stays and blackouts – although I had a friend who sometimes blacked out when he got angry, so that element felt real to me too.
That being said, ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ is an unassuming little picture. It features few recognizable actors, aside from Emma Watson, Paul Rudd, Dylan McDermott and Joan Cusack, and most of them have relatively muted roles. It also doesn’t trade in melodrama or outrageous hijinks; it merely attempts to offer up a slice of life.
Even though Charlie is going through a difficult time, I was possessed with nostalgia for my younger years while watching this film. A part of me wistfully relived some personal moments through these characters and even imagined myself having an alternate, better-adjusted teenhood with deeper emotional ties flavouring it.
I was actually moved by a few sequences: in particular, when Emma Watson’s Sam expressed her platonic love for Charlie (and the way that she did it), and when Charlie powerlessly watches his friends move on without him, and was touched by the sight of Mary Elizabeth’s walls coming down. I was even extremely proud of Charlie for standing up for Patrick.
There were waves of realistic situations and emotions that I found quite poignant. But I was nonetheless detached from some of it, having no real connection with the way they spent their time together or the personalities types in this group. I mostly related to the overall dynamics and the core friendship of Charlie, Sam and Patrick.
‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ is a coming of age dramedy, and I found the flow slightly off at times. It was quite funny, but the drama sometimes surfaced out of nowhere, only to disappear as quickly as it had arrived. In some ways, this approach attenuated the heaviness of these moments, but I found them somewhat impotent, lacking real substance.
If anything stood out in this picture it was the soundtrack, and the central role that music took in the lives of this group of friends. Not only was Sam more musically sophisticated than her peers, but mix-tape making was a core activity for many of them, including Charlie’s sister. After the movie, my buddy and I couldn’t help but reminisce about our tape-making days.
The soundtrack is filled with a bunch of cult classics and iconic tracks such as Dexys Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen”, New Order’s “Temptation”, The Smiths’ “Asleep”, Love And Rockets’ “No New Tale to Tell”, L7’s “Pretend We’re Dead”, Sonic Youth’s “Teen Age Riot”, Joey Ramones’ “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”, David Bowie’s “Heroes” and even songs from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And more. It’s insane just how many familiar tunes were featured in this film; it’s a music-lover’s dream.
‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ didn’t exactly connect with me as much as it probably should have. Or wanted to. But I suspect that it’s a grower. I have fond recollections of it and I will no doubt watch it again. And, not unlike movies such as ‘Best in Show’ and ‘Napoleon Dynamite’, no doubt the nuances will come through more clearly with time. Either way, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to the young and nostalgic alike; this movie is filled with beautiful touches and speaks a truth that many of us know or have known.
“…in this moment I swear, we are infinite.”
Date of viewing: October 25, 2012