The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Directed by: Stephen Chbosky
Starring: Logan Lerman,
Synopsis: see book review.
To me, the film version of The Perks of Being a Wallflower was everything the book failed to be. It took the same coming of age story and stream-lined it, aged the protagonist Charlie, and set it all to the perfect soundtrack . By the final half an hour I was so invested in the characters that I was constantly wiping my eyes and trying hard not to sob out loud. I wasn't the only one either, the two girls behind me were openly bawling their eyes out, and a girl in front of me summed up the film during the credits by saying, "Jesus that was sad, good though!"
Fans of the book, don't stress. The film follows the same basic plot as the book. Charlie (played fantastically by Logan Lerman) is still a quiet, awkward boy embarking on his first year of high school. The first friends he makes (outside of his awesome English teacher played by Paul Rudd) are still Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson), and the ending is just as emotional, if not more so, than it was in the book.
What changes is that Charlie no longer seems so much younger than the others. Yes, he's clearly more awkward, naive and innocent than his new friends, but it felt natural for the friendship to grow beyond the older sibling protective dynamic. More importantly, it made it much less weird and awkward that the love interests that blossom, blossom.
With Sam and Patrick, as well as the rest of the gang, Charlie gets to experience all of the wonders that awaits the odd and eccentric kids at school. We get to see them perform as Rocky Horror plays on the movie screen behind them, we watch Charlie get his first taste of weed, we become infinite with the three of them as they drive through the tunnel. Everything you loved in the book is made visceral and real in the film - it breathes life into a story that, for me, was always slightly lacking that special something.
We also get to see the slow disintegration of Charlie, something which is far darker and more intense in the film than it was in the book. Because the film isn't the same epistolary style (although there is narration in the form of letters from time to time) we see Charlie outside of how Charlie sees himself. We see him struggle to make friends, and then struggle to keep them. We get to experience the absolute lows, and we see the flash of a brief memory that's slowly working its way to the front of Charlie's mind. It becomes far more visceral, and the stakes seem so much greater than they ever did in the book. There's one particular scene towards the end that is so intense that if the movie up until that point had been rubbish it would have been completely redeemed. It's all due to Logan Lerman's phenomenal performance, not only in that scene, but throughout the movie to that point. I'm really looking forward to seeing where that kid goes next.
Because the director of the film is also the book's author, there is very little excluded from the book or added to the film that doesn't make complete sense. Chbosky has had enough time to percolate over that gem of a book and tease out the bits that didn't work, or refine the areas that did. It also means that the vision of the film is so clear. He understands the book and Charlie because he created them, so he knows the exact right song or costume or house- because he was instilling the book with all of these elements long, long ago. And the film does have that perfect little time-capsule feel - a snapshot of a year that Charlie will never forget, or the perfect seasonal mix-tape with The Smith's Sleep on it at least twice.
So regardless of whether you've read the book or not, or even if you liked the book or not, make sure you see this film at the cinema and be sure to take A LOT of tissues with you, because otherwise you'll walk out with tears and snot messing your face up big time.