The Perks of Being a Wallflower | Film Review

Thumbing through my heavily highlighted and dog-eared copy of Stephen Chbosky’s ‘Perks Of Being A Wallflower,’ it was with a mixture of excitement and dread that I took my seat at Fulham Broadway’s Vue Cinema to watch the film adaptation of one of my favourite books.

I recently lamented the forever inaptitude of films to portray the novel in a way that doesn’t take away from the magic of the printed word. That doesn’t mock your imagination for the way it pictured things. That doesn’t Hollywood-ify even the most beautiful of stories.

With ‘Perks Of Being A Wallflower,’ I needn’t have worried.

Directed and written by Stephen Chbosky himself, the film version of ‘Perks,’ remained true to the novel in a way very few feature length films have managed. Chbosky’s love for his characters evident in the casting, with the young actors successfully conjouring up a troupe of textured individuals, rather than archetypes.

Logan Legerman, aka Charlie, the protagonist, instantly endeared himself to the audience, magnificently and with undeniable aptitude bringing a much-loved character to life. To anyone who ever felt on the outside of things, unable to understand the seemingly easy-going lives of those around them and trying, but failing, to participate, Charlie holds up a mirror.

Ezra Miller, last seen in broody ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin,’ magnificently portrayed out-and-proud student Patrick, who’s effeminate touches added another layer of truth to this coming of age drama. Emma Watson, perhaps one of the biggest household names in the film proved slightly less remarkable. But passable. She got the job done.

But how did a tale with such a heavy storyline translate to a rated 12A Hollywood blockbuster? Surprisingly, very well. Although some themes such as teenage abortion and un-consensual sex were left out of the 102 minute production, others, like child molestation, homophobia, suicide and the trials and tribulations of teenage-dom were portrayed with unflinching honesty and openness. Facts that must be applauded when you consider the arguable culture of shame which so pervades us.

A perfect blend of happy and sad, the emotions of the characters manage to infiltrate the audience in a genuine way, no cheese-alarms sounding off, but rather leaking eyes, tugging heartstrings, and a peek into a mind that is not your own, but may well, once upon a time, have been.

Are certain moments in the film slightly over the top? Perhaps. But is that not what being a teenager is all about? Every rejection and every problem seemingly insurmountable and the end of the world as you know it?

If anything, Chbosky’s characters recognize this, dropping beautifully written and observed epiphanies throughout the course of the film. “We accept the love we think we deserve,” perhaps the most poignant, and important of observations.

“The cheater is to blame – no one else. Unless the girlfriend has a particularly large vagina – then it’s her fault.”

I had a best friend once. We proceeded to make each others lives a living hell when a boy managed to trick us both. Out of the whole weird, awkward and totally wrong situation – he was the only one who had been consciously lying, deceiving and hurting. But we didn’t even really blink an eyelid at him. Instead, we attacked each other.

If it was only me, and only her, and our stupidity only existed in a vacuum then it would (at some point) end up being a funny story to shake our heads and laugh at. But our stupidity doesn’t only exist in a vacuum. It’s sucked up the whole world.

“He cheated on me, but I blame her – the bitch.”

We always do.

It’s like we got sucked into believing this “blue balls” theory. Poor things, poor fragile men. Their balls will turn blue and fall off if not routinely emptied. Poor, poor fragile men. They can’t control themselves.

It depends where the loyalty lies, really. If the girl is your best friend, your sister, your mum (hey, you never know!) then fine, bitch it is. If it’s some random chick – it isn’t really her problem. It’s his. And yours.

There are women like this (click here) who wouldn’t even flinch (in fact, they often pride themselves) on stealing/attempting to steal/getting it on with another woman’s boyfriend. Is it their problem if the man succumbs? No. Sure what they’re doing may be morally despicable behaviour but do they owe you anything? No.

Does he is the more important question. Despite the fact that men would like women to think that their penis is their second (often more active) brain… and despite the fact that believing that may make men less accountable for their actions… They are not salivating animals. And to think that they are is not doing justice either to them or to yourself or to the human race.

Out of the random chick on the street and the guy you share a bed and a life with – which of the two is supposed to be more loyal to you?

You could perhaps try fumble in your pack of cards for the ‘girl power’ or the ‘let’s stick together as human beings of the same sex’ card. But a lot of the time that card isn’t in the deck, home gurllll *clicks fingers.*

Cue the hair pulling and the bitch slapping. And the man who sits back and breathes a sigh of relief at the fact that he’s been let off the hook. Phew. Didn’t even need to whip out the second brain to do the talking for him. It’s almost like the girl thinks that her boyfriend is perfect and was just unfortunately taken advantage of by the evil other woman. The myth is so entrenched he didn’t even need to reach for the zipper.

Who’s the bitch, now?