My boyfriend rarely cries. Once, in 2010, his first viewing of The Notebook inspired a tearfully defensive, “It was a really good movie, OK?” But other than that, nada. So when I stopped clasping my hands over my mouth and gasping to look over at him hiding a manly tear, I knew this movie was good.
For those of us familiar with the book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower movie was a work in progress ever present in our minds. Who could do justice to the beautiful spirits of Sam, Patrick, and Charlie? How could someone begin to take the one-perspective book of letters and create thoughts aloud in dialogue and actions? Author Stephen Chbosky takes on multiple roles as screenwriter, director, and producer, a comforting first credit to lovers of the novel, while Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, and Logan Lerman suit up to play characters that demand impossible realness.
The film opens with Lerman, typewriter at work, with a voice-over reading aloud his first letter to the anonymous “friend.” Thankfully, Chbosky drops the cheesy act and moves onto the story.
Like Chbosky’s original, Miller portrays not an offensively overdone stereotype of homosexuality, but a charismatic and captivating character whose sexuality is not advertised to the point of singularly defining his entire person. Watson takes on kind and damaged Sam, adding a brand of purity that brings a new unseen sweetness to the original character. Lerman’s steady gaze and endearing awkwardness is pretty close to the wallflower himself.
As the plot progresses, flashbacks of Lerman’s troubles appear. We do not see entire scenes but fragments. The story gets more and more troubling, and I found myself getting upset in anticipation. We get more and more negativity, and then the climax. I’m gasping, boyfriend’s crying, and the audience is slammed with everything at once. It’s breathtaking.
If the movie was flawless, it could easily become a cult classic (it probably will anyway!). There were a few points of concern. Fans of sister Candace will be upset. Vampire Diaries Nina Dobrev’s Candace is soft-spoken rather than a snotty girl with a kind center. Her plot is dropped after she takes back boyfriend David, and we do not see her development while her and Charlie’s relationship remains fixed and two-dimensional.
My life’s inspiration and personal hero Emma Watson was a lovely Sam, don’t get me wrong, but her American accent could use a little work. Emma, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry, but your hard “r’s” and long “a’s” were a little British! I’m so sorry please come back I didn’t mean it!!
Bottom line: Perks of Being a Wallflower was pretty great. Plan ahead and don’t see this before class, or your History of Water professor might think you’ve brought in an example of real tears for discussion.
And even though the last scene will leave you in pieces, please, whatever you do, do NOT get “and in that moment, I swear we were infinite” tattooed on your feet.