Movie Club: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

perks

So here’s something I’d like to do in 2014: write more about films. I’m currently in my third year of film classes at school– my teacher is quite literally a genius, and he singlehandedly instilled in me a love of film. I’d been making youtube videos for a couple years prior to my first film class, but I hadn’t connected it with, like, actual movies.

Half the course is in film production, and the other half is in film studies & analysis. I’ve gotten a decent amount of practice writing about films now to, I think, have something semi-worthwhile to say about them on this here blog. These posts will include a lot of stills, a bit of analysis, a bit of reviewing, and (for my favourites) a bit of how these films have affected me personally.

Also, in the breakdowns of my rating I’m only including things that are relevant to that specific movie. Perks of Being a Wallflower isn’t getting judged on its sound design, but Close Encounters of the Third Kind probably would be.

Anyway, now that me trying to convince you that I’m at least somewhat credible is over: let’s talk Perks of Being a Wallflower.

This adaptation of Stephen Chbosky’s 1999 novel of the same name was written and directed by Chbosky himself, and he knew exactly what to cut from the book to makeΒ the plot as clear and focused as it is. Protagonist Charlie (Logan Lerman), who’s just starting to stabilize after being deeply depressed, starts high school, meets seniors Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson), and quickly gets wrapped up in their dramatic, beautiful world as he deals with his mental illness.

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One of many reasons I love this film is because of its treatment of mental illness. Lerman’s impressive portrayal of depression humanizes people with an illness that makes them feel much less than human. Seeing a protagonist with a mental illness that isn’t seen as a joke in a mainstream, comercially successful movie, makes me really happy. The only other films I’ve seen that deal with depression so well are films about depression.

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower is about so much more. It’s about growth and learning, it’s about first loves, it’s about leaving (and being left behind), it’s about drugs and sex and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And some really beautiful shots, damn.

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The key to the movie’s relatability to, like, every teenager ever, is in the writing and the acting of the perfectly casted characters. As soon as Charlie meets Sam, the audience falls just as in love with her as he does. You get drawn to Patrick easily by his gallows humour and easygoing vibe. Your heart soars and breaks with these characters as their story unfolds. Chbosky captures the dullness of adolescence beautifully with lines that go from hilarious…

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…to almost painfully honest.

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Perks deals with typical teenage drama, and issues that teenagers shouldn’t even have to think about, brilliantly. And all without invalidating the feelings of their characters because of their young age– which, side note, is made clear by really clever costume designing. They don’t all dress like they have a stylist. The costumes capture some of the awkwardness of teenage forays into fashion super well. Though not necessarily a feel-good movie (watching Charlie’s friends go off to university kind of kills me– a lot of my friends are graduating at the end of this school year, it’s just #2real) it leaves you with a message of “hey. Hey you. Your feelings are ok. Have feelings. Okay good bye.”

Except maybe more eloquently than that. Probably way more eloquent than that.