The Perks Of Being A Wallflower Film Studies Essay
The Perks of Being a Wallflower takes us to adolescent places we either know or remember well: the heart-fluttering first crush or the high-school obsession with an SAT score.
Yet despite the familiar material in The Perks of Being a Wallflower — material that will be especially recognizable to those who have read the young-adult novel on which it is based — the disjointed but refreshingly earnest movie ultimately establishes itself as a charmer.
While Stephen Chbosky — directing from his screenplay, based on his 1999 book — occasionally leans a little hard on the overtly sentimental, he succeeds at the most important element in any film about that bumpy path from pubescence to adulthood: He makes us feel young. Charlie (Logan Lerman of Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief), having recently lost his best friend to suicide, is entering high school with no acquaintances and no notable romantic history but an enormous appetite for making mix tapes and reading every classic work of fiction that his affable English teacher (Paul Rudd) slips him for extra credit. When Charlie meets Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson) — seniors, stepsiblings and self-defined misfit toys — he suddenly finds himself with two spirit guides willing to usher him into a world of Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings, marijuana brownies and the first glimmers of unrequited love. One could argue that Chbosky adheres to his original work a bit too closely; there are moments in Perks when scenes flow abruptly from one to the next, as if the filmmaker is racing to squeeze the most crucial plot points into a 103-minute running time. Still, the performances by the charismatic young actors — particularly the uber-confident Miller — compensate for any missteps. The other star of the movie is the soundtrack, which, in keeping with the early-’90s setting, spills forth a parade of melodies from the Cocteau Twins, Cracker and the Smiths. That makes Perks a film designed both for nostalgic Generations and the text-addicted kids of today. It is a movie for anyone who has ever ridden in a car beside his closest high-school friends with his hair whipping in a liberating weekend-night wind and his heart filled with a sense of the infinite.
According to Charlie, since the dawn of motion pictures, music has played an integral part of the cinematic experience. Before the advent of “talkies”, music quickly became a necessary tool to aid the narrative. These conventions have become moviemaking standards and are still used today. The use of music is a vital part of a movie. It helps create the emotion in the viewers; where as a film with no music would be flat. Not only is it used to convey the emotion but to: heighten drama, establish time, advance the story or even mislead the viewers. Since the movie the perks of being a wild flower was written in the late 90’s, the directors choice in music was well suited for the movie. For example, in the scene where the trio enters the tunnel and Sam (Watson) stands up; all of a sudden the song “Heroes” by David Bowie come on the radio and later or ends up being blasted through it. This song is significant there because Sam was standing up in the car while entering the tunnel, which gives the viewers the feeling that even for one day they could be heroes and lovers. If any other song was played in place of that, it would not have created the same feeling. Similarly, the song “Asleep” by Smiths is one of the many songs that Charlie likes to listen to. This song fits well in this movie because the lyrics of the song repeat itself, as it does in Charlie’s playlist.
Acting is equally or even more important than sound. Just because the sound is great doesn’t make much difference if the actors and the acting is not there. The roles of Sam, Patrick and Charlie are played equally talented teens. Sam played by Emma Watson was an outstanding performance by her. Ms. Watson is known for her character, Hermione from the Harry Potter Series. Although she has an accent, she worked on it and strived to sound like any old American teenager. Emma Watson was a good choice for this role because of her short hair; she fit the character as a rebellious, “doing whatever they want” kind of teenager. Logan Lerner plays the role of Charlie, a lonely soul, does a fantastic job in playing in playing the part. He is famous for is fabulous role in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Charlie is a delicate character and has to be portrayed in a delicate manner. Although, other roles were important, the most critical role in the movie is that off Charlie’s. Mr. Lerner’s character has to quickly gain attraction and be likeable by the viewers; otherwise the movie would seem pointless. Another major character in the movie, Patrick played by Ezra Miller, is to help guide the other characters to final destination so to speak. Miller’s ability to be comical and serious fits the character he played. He does an outstanding job as a scene-stealing, impossibly cool, life-of-the-party, openly gay senior Patrick. The three actors did a phenomenal job at playing the part.
In my opinion, The Perks of Being a Wildflower is a fantastic movie that takes me back to my high school days. I can relate to the movie because I too was a lonely freshman entering high school, with the hopes of making one friend other than my physics and math teachers. However, this movie falls into a lot of cliché’s. Just because this movie is set in the 90’s, doesn’t make the bells and whistle – gays and drug abuse, more superior to other films in the same genre. The teen-film genre about a teen trying to fit in with others is a popular genre, but what made me like this movie is the personal connection I felt with the character Charlie. Being one of his first films, the author and director of this book and movie, Stephen Chbosky, does a phenomenal job at representing the book. Being based on a book, there are some differences between the two to a certain extent. For instance, in the book Patrick and Charlie’s relationship is much tenser than that portrayed in the movie. If I had to guess, the director probably didn’t have enough screen time to have that scene develop, or perhaps to have a more emotional connection to the director. All in all, this movie was fantastic and would recommend anyone to go watch. One thing I know for sure is that I wouldn’t mind watching it a second or third time.
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