Redbox Review ~ The Perks of Being a Wallflower


Charlie (Logan Lerman)

Since it’s Valentines Day and all, I wanted to review a film that properly celebrated the holiday. I was afraid I liked this movie so much because I was in a sensitive mood. After watching Perks of Being a Wallflower a second time, I know now that my initial feelings were genuine. This film not only spoke to me in a sensitive, endearing language, but perhaps represents the most sound adaptation of a troubled teenager in high school I have ever seen.

I admit, there are a few “quintessential” moments of high school filmed that shouldn’t have been, such as meaningless bullying and random acts of hatred. High school is not like that. (I know the story takes place in 1991, and things might have been slightly different from now.) There might be subtle verbal abuse, or discrimination against the LBGT community, rightfully portrayed later in the film, but nothing like what we see at the beginning of the film with Charlie. I’m not saying bullying doesn’t happen, I’m just saying films tend to exaggerate a little. (Do you agree?)

Thankfully, Perks of Being a Wallflower escapes being stereotypical. Stephen Chbosky, author-director of Perks, apparently patiently waited until his novel (1999) could be perfectly adapted for the big screen. After getting a cast like Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, and Emma Watson, no wonder he felt it was time. I want to pay special attention to the lead role, Charlie, played brilliantly by Logan Lerman. He succeeds in portraying a timorous, introverted, and sincerely sensitive teenager boy. His moments of joy are scarce unless he is with his offbeat friends, who remind me of my own high school clique (I think that’s the point). Before Charlie meets Sam (Watson) and Patrick (Miller), it’s easy to pity Charlie, which is an important facet of his personality, I think. He always puts people ahead of himself… Even if he has to date a girl he dislikes, or if Patrick kisses him to feel comforted.

Sam (Emma Watson)

Sam (Emma Watson)

The moment Charlie says the words, “He shot himself last May,” while explaining where his best friend was, the emotions become heavy. This scene is ironic, because even though he’s stoned and seems indifferent, he states this fact like it was a mundane detail of his life and the atmosphere immediately starts to weigh us down. I’ve also dealt with loss in high school. Something so real so early changes your perspective. I empathize with Charlie as he struggles to smile and to make new friends. Half of the time Charlie is busy being so extremely nice and thoughtful, it’s hard to believe how mentally indisposed he is. This combination proves to be the ultimate formula for an impossibly lovable character. I struggled with watching how passive he was, not seizing his wants and desires. Yet, he was truly present for all of his friends through all of their issues by being so selfless.

Emma Watson and Ezra Miller also give us genuine performances, even though Watson’s American accent is slightly shaky. Of the two, I think Patrick was my second favorite character, since he displays a relevant issue with envious confidence and humor. One memorable scene is the cafeteria scene. Patrick’s closeted relationship with the high school’s football star is damaged after his father finds them together and beats him. The next day in school he cruelly watches his jock friends beat Patrick after he calls Patrick a faggot. Charlie then instinctively defends Patrick’s vitality and beats the jocks to a shocking silence (he blacks out during). The simple, sad truth is that Charlie just wants friends. He puts his friendships above everything else, and falls apart without them.

The moment of Charlie’s meltdown was Chboksy’s hardest scene to write, according to Kyle Buchanan’s interview. But Chbosky was surprised by what Lerman brought to his performance. Honestly, I was nervous watching it. When I understood the depth of Charlie’s mental state, the story became complete. Chbosky not only gives us a fragile story about love, friends, loss and things that complicate all three, but a relatable story with real characters and real emotion. This film is surely underrated.

Charlie, Patrick, Sam

Charlie, Patrick, Sam

My only complaint is that it wasn’t as developed as I know the novel was. This happens with novel-film adaptations. My intrigue about these characters and Charlie’s inner-monologue left me wanting more. And I won’t even begin on the brilliance of the title. Who wants to be prom king or queen when they could be an insightful wallflower? Finally someone speaks for the majority.

I give Perks of Being a Wallflower 4.5 stars out of 5!

(I’ve been giving out a lot of these lately… Coincidence?)

4.5 star-Perks

What did you think about how Chbosky handled the issues in Perks? What did you think about the acting from the three main characters?

6 Responses to “Redbox Review ~ The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
  1. I am yet too see this, especially after reading this review I can’t wait to give it a watch!

  2. matthiaslytx says:

    Honestly, fantastic review miss. Initially, I was only interested in this movie because of Emma Watson, BUT after reading your review, I really want to see how Charlie’s story unfolds. Most teen male characters in dramas aren’t very selfless characters. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s usually about a guy trying to lose his virginity, or party, or land the girl of his dreams, and then it’s about the plot rather than the character, for better or worse (eg “The Girl Next Door” 2004).
    I tried to Redbox it today, but it was checked out 😦 Didn’t even have Skyfall either! It was a bad day at the Redbox

    • heiwanalady says:

      Thanks Matt ! Oh Skyfall is equally great! I’m a huge fan of the Daniel Craig-007 movies. He is the best Bond period.

      • matthiaslytx says:

        *High Five* Craig is so damn cool! Definitely my favorite Bond too and one of my favorite actors. LOVED the opening credits sequence w/ Adele’s track. And M’s speech at her public hearing on why agents like Bond are still relevant, cutting to shots of Bond, focused and running to the court house to save her, just amazing!

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