By Angela Wang
We all know that school can be horrendous, with the social rules we have to abide by and the ridiculous clichés we are grouped in. Sometimes, we just are not able to fit in and become unnoticed by everyone around us, the perfect wallflower. With an eclectic cast and a remarkable plot, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, brings to life this high school scene and shows the viewer that with a little help from friends, it is not all that bad.
Perks of Being a Wallflower starts off following a teenager who goes by the alias Charlie (Logan Lerman), an introverted, studious freshman about to start his first day of high school. Charlie has no social circle and is sometimes taunted by his fellow classmates for his quiet ways, but many times, he simply goes unnoticed by those around him. Through a series of letters, addressed to an unspecified “friend”, in which he records his innermost thoughts and feelings, the audience is aware that Charlie is recovering from depression. It is clear from the very first one that Charlie had suffered trauma before his entry into high school and because of it, has adopted a watchful wariness in his eyes and deeper insight on his observations. Charlie does not expect to make any friends at all, but continues trying and it is not long before two seniors befriend him. Patrick (Ezra Miller) is the homosexual class clown and Sam (Emma Watson), his step-sister, is a beautiful girl with the low self-esteem, trying to reform herself from a messy past. Both belong to a group of social outcasts and welcome Charlie with open arms to “the island of misfit toys” where they show him a different side of high school.
Lerman does a fantastic job with his character, adapting from his usual lively self to the quiet, timid role of Charlie. Not only is Lerman effectively able to portray Charlie’s disposition, but he also steps into Charlie’s dark past without hesitation, depicting the anguish that he experiences at times. In Perks, we also see Watson in one of her first post-Harry Potter roles. Although her American accent falters at some points, Watson is able to play the part convincingly with a certain fragility that makes Sam seem all too real and strikes home with viewers. Miller surprises everyone with this turnabout role from his mass-killer character in We Need to Talk about Kevin and exudes a warm playfulness and confused woundedness.
Both the director of the movie and the author of the book, Stephan Chbosky is able to successively make the transition from paper to big screen, despite the doubt that many had about whether he would be able to capture the spirit of the book in 102 minutes. With the book in the form of letters, many people believed that there would be an overabundance of narration, but instead, Chbosky has just the right amount of acting and narration from the letters. When there is only narration, both the letters and the music sets the mood for the scene that is about to occur next, serving as an effective transition between time and different situations. Not only that, Chbosky also touches on a variety of different issues including domestic violence, homosexuality, social outcast, drugs, sex, child molestation, and so much more. In just one movie, he is able to create an imperfect world with characters that lead lives that stray far from the perfect movie teens.
Chbosky has done a brilliant job with casting these characters and creating a movie that connects the viewers on more than just one level. It has a genuine truthfulness that makes it feel all the more real to anyone in the audience. Through Charlie, Chbosky sends us the message that things do get better. It simply takes a little time and the right people to feel unbelievably happy and utterly invincible, to feel as if nothing could go wrong, to feel “infinite”.