An Infinite Victory (Movie Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower)

“I know there are people who say all these things don’t happen. And there are people who forget what it’s like to be 16 when they turn 17. I know these will all be stories someday. And our pictures will become old photographs. We’ll all become somebody’s mom or dad. But right now, these moments are not stories.”

–  Charlie

 

Perks of Being a Wallflower PosterI apologize for the late review, considering that this movie came out back in September. But I only just saw it recently myself, and I figured since the DVD is coming out in a few weeks, I would offer my opinions for those who didn’t drive three hours to find a theater actually showing the film.

The premise: well, first of all, let me say that you should read the book before you watch the movie. Luckily it’s one of those movies that you can understand perfectly well without reading the book; in fact, come to think of it, this is probably one of the most inclusive adaptions I’ve ever seen. But all that aside, I’d still strongly recommend reading the book beforehand.

That being said, for those who aren’t familiar, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age story about Charlie, a boy starting high school, who quickly befriends oddball step siblings Patrick and Sam. As he struggles to survive his freshman year, he learns several things about growing up, including dealing with problems from his past.

If that sounds bland to you, don’t be fooled. This thing is dripping with intelligence as well as emotion.

What I liked:

First of all, I appreciated how the film, much like the book, didn’t dress up high school as a cute, magical place where everyone gets along. The dialogue felt realistic, which is impressive, all things considered. I immediately loved Patrick from the moment he was told by his shop teacher, “Alright, Nothing, go ahead and read,” and Patrick opened the book to page one and said, “Okay, Chapter 1: Surviving your fascist shop teacher who needs to put kids down to feel big. Oh wow! This is useful guys, we should read on!”

Second of all, the film was a perfect adaption. It didn’t include every tiny detail from the book, but the feel was exactly the same. The story was intact. And instead of including every shred of dialogue from the source text, the script creates new thoughtful, humorous lines (though, of course, it preserves the most important bits). One of my favorite new lines is when Sam says to Charlie, “You can’t just sit there and put everybody’s lives ahead of yours and think it counts as love.”

Minor storyline spoilers ahead:

My favorite part, easily, was Charlie’s mental breakdown scene. It includes everything essential: the beautiful music, the flash of scenes from the movie, and of course Lerman’s acting (“Stop crying. Stop crying.”)

The ending monologue is perfect.

“I just want you to know that I was in a bad place before I started high school and you helped me. Even if you didn’t know what I was talking about or know someone who has gone through it, you made me not feel alone. I know there are people who say all these things don’t happen. And there are people who forget what it’s like to be 16 when they turn 17. I know these will all be stories someday. And our pictures will become old photographs. We’ll all become somebody’s mom or dad. But right now, these moments are not stories. This is happening…and in this moment I swear, we are infinite.”

I think that about sums up…well, everything. About everything.

 

In Conclusion: It’s all too obvious that the author, Chbosky, wrote and directed this adaption himself. He obviously strives to create a new experience that’s still faithful to the old one. And it is an infinite victory.

Rate: 8 out of 10.

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