We Are InfiniteChbosky’s film adaptation as successful as the source material
It’s easy to rule Stephen Chbosky’s coming of age story as yet another cliché high school film. Many of the stereotypical characters from the locker room days make cameo appearances here. There’s the tough football player who’s really not that tough, the life-changing teacher who believes in all of your future aspirations (despite how impossible they may seem), the incredibly intelligent girl stuck in an abusive relationship and the guy everyone bullies for being a tad different. But The Perks of Being a Wallflower is more than just your regular dramedy; it’s about the complexities that come with being human at a vulnerable time.
Set in Pittsburgh, the film tells the story of Charlie (Logan Lerman), a socially awkward teenager transitioning through his freshman year of high school. As the title suggests, Charlie is a wallflower. Even so, his blossoming begins as he is welcomed into a band of misfits led by offbeat step-siblings: the wildly beautiful and carefree Sam (Emma Watson) and the eccentric, flamboyant Patrick (Ezra Miller). Their stories work as a deeply relatable mashed-up version of every teenager’s past experience.
Each character gives the film a chance to explore moments of adolescence like the first crush, first kiss, first sexual encounter and first prom. Dark themes not typically dealt with in films aimed at teenagers are also bought to light. Never afraid to delve into the depression so many teenagers experience, Chbosky’s film carries thick, heavy emotional scenes. Charlie’s experiences in particular range far and wide as he oscillates from guilt-ridden lows, like the disturbing flashbacks of his aunt dying in a car crash, to uplifting highs, like his first passionate kiss with a girl. These events and reflections are all in hopes of seeking the ultimate purpose of finding oneself.
The film’s weaknesses include several exposition dumps. Although informational, they pull away from the moment, though they can almost be overlooked due to the brilliantly chosen cast and the well-established connections between these flawed characters.
Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller all bring a surprising complexity and vulnerability to their roles. Logan Lerman (The Three Musketeers, Percy Jackson & the Olympians) gives one of his most emotionally raw performances yet as clinically depressed Charlie. Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin, Beware the Gonzo) balances the fine medium of being a sensitive gay senior and a tough class clown. Emma Watson (Harry Potter), sans her usual British accent, was captivating on screen as a daring and eccentric senior, leaving behind any resemblance to her ten-year portrayal of wide-eyed, ambitious Hermione Granger.
Fans of the 1999 novel need not worry about a tarnished book adaptation. The 102-minute film stayed true to its roots without omitting any defining moments. Thankfully Stephen Chobsky acts as a triple threat—not only is he the author of the original book, he’s also screenwriter and director.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a movie which provides a kaleidoscopic reflection of life. Every shot is brilliantly executed, with scenes still resonating in the mind long after the movie is over. One can still hear Charlie’s hearty laughter of liberation when he finally shouts, “We are infinite!” as his arms are spread eagle-winged, preparing to tackle whatever future obstacles there might be. So, let’s toast to Charlie.