I finally watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower yesterday and I must say that it is a very good adaptation of the novel. It could be confusing and, I refuse to say but I’m going to say it anyway, boring to others who have not read and liked the book. But for me, Stephen Chbosky and the rest of the cast did a wonderful job in immortalizing the story and the characters that I fell in love with.
The character of Charlie has been played well by Logan Lerman. He was able to portray the quirks, shyness, and awful charm of book Charlie, not to mention that he’s too cute to be unpopular. Or as Emma Watson’s character, Sam, pointed out in the movie, “misfit toy”. Although that quote was not really in the book, it was one of the good addition in the movie version. Sad to say, Emma still needs to work on her American accent more. I can still hear a lot of British hints here and there and she still couldn’t shake off her Hermione wiggly eyebrow acting. This got me quite confused why Hermione’s sporting a boho chic bob and hanging out with Muggles. Haha! Among the major characters, Ezra Miller was the real scene stealer. He IS Patrick and he IS Nothing. Hands down! I can say with full confidence that among the non-fans of the book, he would be the most remarkable character of the movie. Patrick’s character is colorful and flamboyant. It’s really hard not to like him. And Ezra really put his acting skills up the notch to justify his character.
And then there’s Aunt Helen who was played by Melanie Lynskey. I was expecting her to be more heavy-set given the character background and depiction so I was surprised to see her playing Charlie’s favorite aunt. The whole character background was not given much in the movie so I guess it makes more sense. I guess they are trying to humanize Aunt Helen to make her more lovable despite the turnaround. Melanie sure has a very cute smile. It’s hard to get mad at her.
I got disappointed that the M*A*S*H story was not included, though. For me, that’s one delightful memory from Charlie’s past. The way his father cried over the last episode of MASH and Charlie caught him trying to hide in the kitchen. The father then said that that would he his and Charlie’s little secret. And from there, they developed a secret bond. There are actually a lot of good lines that the father said in the book. But in the movie, all the father did was put on his glasses, read newspapers, be pensieve, and look hot. Kate Walsh’s passive authoritative nature was not emphasized in the movie as well. I was looking for even a drop of one-liner that would make everyone shut up and obey her.
Nina Dobrev’s character as Charlie’s very pretty sister had a name: Candace. Same with the English teacher, Bill, who was given a surname: Mr. Anderson. He did, at least, delivered one of my favorite lines: We accept the love we think we deserve. Honestly, I would prefer that they stick with the whole secret letter thing, not bothering with the others’ names and surnames. For me, it was one of the major point of the novel anyway. Charlie’s anonymity and his constant search for someone whom he can honestly confide in given that he can’t do it with the people he actually knows at the beginning.
All the minor characters played their part really well, too. I especially like Mary Elizabeth played by Mae Whitman. She’s perfect for the Buddhist/punk/opinionated character whom Charlie dated for a while. She totally owns the side buzz cut that she sported in the movie which I can never imagine myself having.
As for the music, it was everything that I was expecting. They did replace Landslide with Heroes for the tunnel song but I didn’t really mind. Truth be told, I will feel more infinite raising my hands up Titanic-style while cruising to an empty tunnel in the middle of the night to an upbeat David Bowie song; wind in my hair, dress flapping and all. Don’t get me wrong. Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide is a lovely song but it was more of a close-your-eyes-and-smile-dreamily type. Asleep by The Smiths has been mentioned far too many times in the movie, courtesy of Ezra Miller’s Patrick character. Actually good because it is a really amazing song and very apt with the movie’s theme. I liked how they incorporated a whole stanza of it while they’re trying to show a glimpse of what Charlie’s day-to-day life looks and feels like, pre-Patrick and Sam days.
Overall, I was happy of how the movie turned out. It might not gain a cult following as big as the novel itself but it sure did a good job in depicting a coming-of-age, teenage angst movie. There are extreme topics of drugs, sex, abuse, and depression but was portrayed in a whimsical and bitter-sweet manner; enough to make you reminisce on how your own high school life played out.
But then again, it would always be so much better watching the film if you have read the book. So grab a copy before watching. Or even after watching. If you happen to be disappointed with Chbosky’s directing skills, you will certainly not be with his writing. 😉