The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a diamond in the rough. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect – even though I had read the book and all my friends said it was the best movie of the year. I had high hopes, though, because no movie could go wrong in the capable hands of the book’s author, Stephen Chobosky.

The movie follows an introverted teenager named Charlie (Logan Lerman) who is entering his freshman year in high school. Two seniors, Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson) take him under their wings. For the first time, Charlie feels accepted. The trio deals with the turbulence of the high school world including drugs, sexuality, and trauma. Charlie must learn to face his past while learning important life lessons that hold more than just a sprinkle of truth.

Perks made me cry. And not just a few tears here and there, but full-on streaming down my face towards the end. What made me cry? I don’t know. I can’t say for sure. Perhaps it was the raw tangible emotion and chemistry on screen. Or maybe it was the tough circumstances these characters faced. Or it could have been the hope the characters clung on to, hope for a better future. Whatever it was, it touched me deeply in a place where only a few movies have ventured to address the confusion of adolescence with blunt honesty and yet, the theme of being infinite.

This quote, narrated by Charlie, sums it up. “My doctor said we can’t choose where we come from but we can choose where we go from there. I know it’s not all the answers but it was enough to start putting these pieces together.”

The dialogue is memorable and witty, thanks to director Chobosky’s ingeniousness. Usually, I hold to the belief that books are way better than movies (this happens 95% of the time). But Perks of Being a Wallflower falls into the 5% category in which the movie lives up to the book’s hype – perhaps even surpassing it in a way that books simply cannot express. (As a writer, part of me can’t believe that I’m saying this).

This is, in part, due to the gritty and flawless performances. Lerman brings out the quiet Charlie in a way that is immediately likable, yet holding something back that has troubled him for a long time. His character is delicate and silently observant, and certainly brings out the perks of being a wallflower. Miller plays the unusual, hysterical ringleader Patrick even better than I could have imagined. Emma Watson portrays Sam wholeheartedly without any clichés that usually come attached to the love interest of a story. In fact, calling her a love interest would offend many fans because she is so much more than just a side plot.

Perks is emotional and courageous in presenting life’s ups and downs on screen. However, it is rated PG-13 for “mature thematic material, drug and alcohol use, sexual content including references, and a fight – all involving teens”. Some scenes did make me feel uncomfortable, but the reason that I would recommend it for 13 and up is because it really opened my eyes to what is really going on outside of my circle. I personally don’t know anyone who have experienced what Charlie, Sam, and Patrick went through but both the book and the movie have taught me not to judge. I’ve realized that people are just lost and searching for ways to put their life back together. I don’t want to judge people, just like Charlie says about Sam, “I guess she had a reputation. But I don’t care. I’d hate for her to judge me for what I used to be like.”

The open acceptance that Charlie receives, the fleetingness of each moment, the perks (and drawbacks) of being not only a wallflower but also feeling infinite all adds up to a salute of acknowledgement that teens sometimes hit the bottom and still experience some of the breathtaking heights that life can bring. Reading the book first is recommended to add insight while watching the movie. Perks of Being a Wallflower is a movie for teens (13+) to embrace, laugh, cry and relate to – a simple yet complex gem to be held on to forever and always.


About Cassandra Hsiao

Cassandra Hsiao is a senior at OCSA (Orange County School of the Arts). Her work has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and National Student Poets Program. She has been chosen as finalists of playwriting competitions held by California Young Playwrights, The Blank Theatre, Writopia Labs, and Princeton University. Her poetry, essays and reviews have appeared in TeenReads, Jet Fuel Review, Feminine Inquiry, Aerie International and more. She also conducts print and on-camera interviews as a Star Reporter and Film Critic for multiple online outlets. She won a National Gracie Award in Student Online Video Host Category by The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation .

Posted on April 14, 2013, in Movie Reviews, Star Rapture Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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