Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows that Emma Watson is my soul mate. Having somehow missed this opportunity when I was actually coming of age, I’ve been attempting to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower for the past year to prep for Emma’s role as Sam in the movie version out this month (and written/directed by Stephen Chbosky himself!). Faced with a total dearth of cheap/free copies at used bookstores/libraries, I finally downloaded the audio book and happily spreadsheeted my way through work this week.
I have many things to say about the book, but I won’t. Sadly, I’m pretty sure that my enjoyment of it was strongly effected (both positively and negatively) by the fact that I listened to it instead of reading it, so I’ll just skip over my impressions there and go straight into the movie.
(spoilerz behind cut)
I. Loved. It. All three leading actors were phenomenal. I mean, come on, Emma Watson no surprise, but Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller were equally brilliant. Logan especially made a huge impression on me as Charlie. Quite frankly, I got a little annoyed at him in the book: literally every other sentence was “and then I started crying.” It was sometimes a little difficult for me to believe he was able to form relationships at all. Friend to whom I commented on this: “Umm… did you read the book? Look at all that s*** that happened to him… He was pretty messed up…” Yes BUT. Logan’s portrayal of Charlie made him seem much more human to me; his “messed-upness” was further under the surface, making it actually more intense. His physical acting was perfect, quintessential awkward boy movements.
As far as the other characters, there was a little more deviation from the book, all of which I approved of. Charlie’s family seemed much more sympathetic, which I thought made them more relatable. I also enjoyed Paul Rudd as Mr. Anderson, playing a more mature role that I preferred over TFA Bill in the book.
(A note to any book purists that I may have forever alienated with this entry: Again, I blame the audio book for a lot of my negative opinions [I’m sorry, narrator, your voice just kind of annoyed me]. I also blame reading this book in my mid-20s instead of in high school. I clearly didn’t have the time to make this a canon of my adolescence.)
I have to state the obvious and say that having Stephen Chbosky write and direct the film was a huge boon. I recognized the movie’s minimal narration as direct quotes from the book, but they meshed perfectly with the visual aspects of the film (not always a given!). I was more inclined to approve of and agree with the changes that were made to the film version because I knew they came direct from the source.
The soundtrack, as had been hoped for, was epic. As anyone who knows me would guess, I could barely contain myself when Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ “Come On Aileen” was featured during the Homecoming Dance (with a choreographed routine by Emma! Oh such bliss!).
I almost wish I had written this post last night immediately after seeing the movie, because it really had an impression on me that I don’t think I’m conveying well here. Without delving too deeply into the obvious pain and suffering that Charlie experiences, it was just a really powerful experience. I can well understand how this book became the phenomenon it did for so many of my high school friends, and I feel really lucky to have been able to have that same experience through the film.