The trouble with independent films is that they are more often than not SO good!
This is how I classify “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” It is a dramatic take on the ‘coming of age’ concept; and stuns you with its honesty while telling a great story.
‘Perks’ isn’t around here in theaters, but it is in a few theaters in the Dallas metroplex. I saw it at Cinemark Legacy in Plano on a Saturday afternoon with only 15 people there. Yet, I could tell that the film had the same effect on them as it had on me. We were astonished at the power this story told.
Perhaps it was because the director also wrote the novel from whence the movie comes. Stephen Chlosky wrote the highly acclaimed novel in 1999 and then adapted it in a screenplay and somehow talked a studio into letting him direct the thing! Doesn’t happen much, but in this case…………….What a great idea!
Chlosky knows the story; knows the concepts presented and knows these characters inside and out. He is uniquely qualified to get what is needed from the actors to make a special movie. He probably won’t get any accolades (and he should!) from the Academy, but I believe there should be a new category for people who direct their own novel into existence!!!
Yes, it’s that good……………………………
The one word which describes ‘Perks’ is intense. This is the only and best word I think tells you what to expect. And yet, the level of intensity at times in the movie is unexpected as well. So, it is a sort of roller coaster ride, but not so radical. You are too busy being ‘moved’ to notice.
Logan Lehrman plays Charlie, a freshman entering high school in big town Pennsylvania. The introverted young man is taken in by two seniors who show him the ‘real’ world. This is the basic premise, but there is so much within this premise that it doesn’t do it justice. Emma Watson, of “Harry Potter” fame, portrays Sam while Erin Miller is Patrick, step-siblings who are part of the ‘Not so Cool’ crowd at this early 1990s high school.
Charlie is beset with mental illness, but more from an external reason than a congenital condition. This part of the story is told in snippets throughout the movie and works perfectly into the plot line. Both Sam and Patrick have their ‘problems’ and ‘situations,’ which they must have seen in Charlie as they take him under their collective wings.
“Let’s go be Psychos together,” Sam tells Charlie at one point.
These three characters and their story is a great example of the depth that young life can be. It is unexpected in a movie – but of course, the novel had it – so, one is moved in ways he or she doesn’t expect. This is not your typical “Let’s get through it together” movie. No, it is much more. Listen to the ‘power’ of their words and dialogues. You will hear and more importantly, you will FEEL real life at age 15 and 18 (freshman/senior).
We now see that Emma Watson is much more than her ‘Harry Potter’ character. She is excellent in this film! Her lost little girl turning into a woman is seen right on the screen. She longs for truth and depth in life; we see her gain these things through Charlie even as he learns of life in their relationship. Powerful stuff!
There are some great supporting actors in this film as well. Even though it is focused on the main three characters, these other people in their lives have an impact. Wow! I didn’t think Paul Rudd could do ‘drama!’ Yet, he is absolutely great with only a couple dozen lines as Charlie’s English teacher, Mr. Anderson. He even gets to say what I think is the most powerful sentence in the film: “We accept the love we think we deserve.”
Just think about that for a minute……………Yes, this is a powerful movie! It is not a comedy or thrown together to make some quick money. This is an example of what film can be. This is a chronicling of REAL LIFE; and you will come out wondering how they did such a good job!
Dylan McDermott (American Horror Story) and Kate Walsh (Private Practice) play Charlie’s parents. They are very good and McDermott has some good lines. You’ll recognize her face when you see Melanie Lynskey playing Charlie’s aunt; and Joan Cusack has a small part at the end as a psychiatrist working with Charlie.
Even Mae Whitman, who plays Amber on “Parenthood,” has a significant part as a member of the ‘group’ who hangs out together. She does a good job as well.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is 103 minutes long and is rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, drug and alcohol use, sexual content including references and a fight. It opened in four theaters in the U.S. on Sept. 28 and went wide Oct. 12. It debuted at number 10 and was 12th last weekend. It has made a little more than $9 million.
Besides have ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ as a plot device, this film tackles such issues as being an outsider, first love, suicide, mental illness, drugs, homosexuality, honesty, loyalty and betrayal. It even refers to ‘mix tapes’ from the early 1990s! Yes, this film has everything; and it’s amazing to believe we are talking about teenagers!
Maybe that is the important message: This is what happens in the teen years. We come of
age from being ‘Nothing’ to ‘Something.’ Charlie ends the film well when he sums up his freshman year with his friends, “We are Infinite!”
If you are in the mood for a drama and a well made film, see this movie! When it comes to DVD, see this film! If you ever have the chance to see it on television, see this movie!!