This week’s blog is a bit of a departure from my usual style. I saw a movie yesterday, and, at the request of a friend, wrote a review which I am now happy to share with you.
Review – The Perks of Being a Wallflower
(Rated PG-13 - sex, drugs, mild profanity, and adult themes that may be difficult for children under 13 to understand)
As the opening frames of the movie adaptation of Stephen Chbosky’s novel roll across the screen, audience members are immediately duped into thinking they are going to see a typical tale of teen angst. There’s the shy freshman loner, the openly gay class clown, the football star and resident bully, the shoplifter, the punk rocker, and of course, the sweet, pretty girl who is forever relegated into the “just friends” category.
However, as the movie progresses and the clichéd outer layers of the characters are peeled away, the audience begins to embrace the world of these adolescents who are full of love, fear, uncertainty, and unabashed emotional pain.
At the center of the film is Charlie, brought to life in a controlled, yet heart-wrenching performance by Logan Lerman, best known for playing the lead in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. We understand that Charlie is painfully shy, however, the audience is only permitted a limited understanding of how deep that pain flows as brief flashbacks offer clues to his traumatic childhood.
An upper middle class Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania suburb in the early 1990s provides the back drop for this tale, however, neither the place nor the decade are particularly relevant. Trapped in the shadow of his college football star brother and a high school senior sister who ignores her freshman sibling, Charlie finds solace sitting alone at a cafeteria lunch table, hiding behind the safety and anonymity of a book.
As the story unfolds, Charlie is welcomed as family into a group of misfit high school seniors. There is Patrick, (Ezra Miller), whose class clown antics hide the pain of being in a homosexual relationship that he is unable to share with the world; punk rocker and Buddhist Mary Elizabeth, (Mae Whitman), whose feelings for Charlie extend beyond friendship; and Sam, the girl who is the object of his seemingly unrequited love, played beautifully by Emma Watson, whose performance makes the audience forget she roamed the halls of Hogwarts for 10 years. Watson brings her own brand of magic to Sam, a girl who makes bad choices, yet values the deep roots of love and friendship above all else.
The film takes us through Charlie’s freshman year, as he develops a profound bond with this band of self-described misfits, and we share his reactions to those adolescent “rights of passage” such as sex, drugs, and a longing to fit in and belong.
As we learn the reasons for Charlie’s intense emotional pain, we also discover his “real” family – the parents and siblings he has pushed away, truly love him as much as his “adopted” family – his new found friends.
We laugh as he laughs, cry as he cries and celebrate a beautiful story of a teenage boy who finally learns to break free from the darkness of his childhood and learn to trust the love of family and friends.
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