The Perks of Being a Wallflower came out several months ago, but I just got my copy of the DVD and finished watching it for the first time in a while – it’s still as great as I remember. Of course, there are some flaws, but this is one of those movies that you can look past the occasional cliche and slip in acting, because it’s just good. Critically, it’s probably a 7/10, but critiques aside, it’s a 9/10, maybe even a 10/10.
We’ll start with the negatives:
- Emma Watson, though a great actress in the Harry Potter movies, doesn’t quite seem to have a grasp of her American accent.
- The script doesn’t always flow as seamlessly as hoped, but it’s a small minority of the lines.
Other than that, everything about the movie is fantastic. Ezra Miller was Patrick – there was no acting going on there. He embodied the character fully, with as much sass and flair as you could imagine from the book. Logan Lerman portrays the socially awkward and unstable Charlie with aplomb as well. Emma Watson wasn’t quite as dazzling as Sam, but this might be in part due to the stellar performances by Miller and Lerman that overshadow her.
There are two ways you can look at the plot and situations of Perks: 1) they’re cliche and overused, just standard smut from high school that everyone stereotypes, or 2) it’s an honest look at the realities of high school, and the cliches are there because everyone experiences them, but that doesn’t make them any less important or meaningful.
I tend to side with the second perspective. Cliches exist because they’re universal truths – something that everyone understands because at some point in their life they will experience them. High school, in particular, is full of cliches. Love, drugs, college, sexuality, parties – it’s all piled into four small years. Perks covers a myriad of these topics, and that’s why it’s so easy to connect to. Even if you never dabbled in drugs, you probably remember your first kiss and how you felt. By addressing such a variety of situations, there’s at least one situation that you can identify with in the movie.
One moment, in particular, is something that everyone is faced with at the end of high school: graduation. Whether you’re the one graduating, or you’re watching your friends move on as you are left behind, it’s one of the most daunting, terrifying, thrilling moments in a young person’s life. It’s painful and heartbreaking, but there is also a freedom and release. This wide span of emotions is highlighted by each character, and it deepens the feeling of nostalgia left at the end of the movie.
Despite some flaws, and the strange filming technique that takes a while to adjust to, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a powerful, honest, and raw portrayal of one boy’s journey through the upside down world.
What was your reaction to the Perks of Being a Wallflower? Did you prefer the book or the movie?