Book to movie review: “The Perks of Being A Wallflower”

Just like I said in the previous post, one reason that I finally started reading “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” was the fact that the movie starring Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, and Emma Watson started playing here in the Philippines early last week.

As it turned out, I didn’t quite fall in love with “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” as a book. And while the movie version has been getting good reviews, the book just proved to me that it doesn’t immediately translate to me liking it.

Will this movie adaptation, written and directed by Chbosky himself, end up leaving me with mixed feelings, in the same way the book did? Or will I end up eating crow and find myself thoroughly charmed by this movie, in much the same way a lot of crtics seem to be?

Having been adapted to the screen by the man who wrote the novel it’s based on, “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” certainly succeeds in trimming some of the things that I found problematic from the book without sacrificing its central message.

While Carlie’s narration is definitely still there, thanks to voiceovers that are often taken word for word from the book, the fact that Chbosky now has to tell his story with pictures rather than words effectively cuts away some of Charlie’s mopey-ness and grating precociousness that I felt was a little excessive in the book. Thanks to either Chbosky’s directing or Logan Lerman’s acting decisions, Charlie comes off as a sensitive introvert you can truly root for.

The same goes for the characters Sam and Patrick. Because the book is told only from Charlie’s perspective, it’s hard to see Sam and Patrick as anything more than signposts towards Charlie’s journey of self-realization. Granted, they’re quite memorable signposts, but they’re signposts nonetheless.

Freed from the constraints of a first-person narrative, Sam and Patrick become even more beautiful “creatures of the night”, as Rocky Horror would put it. Ezra Miller in particular shines the brightest. Whether he’s in a corset and garters or trumpeting his mediocrity alongside Charlie and Sam, it’s hard not to be enthralled by him.

The movie even manages to impart the ideas of self-determination even more effectively than the book did, and does a better job of revealing the “twist” that happens at the end of the novel regarding Aunt Helen. By using flashbacks — at least better than the ones in the book — the revelation doesn’t feeling as jarring or as cheap as it did in the novel.

If there’s anything to pick at with regards to this version of “Perks”, it’s the fact that just like the book, I don’t think I saw this movie at the right time in my life. It’s not that the movie isn’t good, it’s just that it would have had a bigger impact on me if I had watched it when I was just a teenager. As it is now, I can’t help but compare both the book and the movie to “Mysterious Skin”, which I feel tackled the same subject matter and dealt with it in a way that I could relate to more. (NB: I do a horrible job of talking about “Mysterious Skin” in that blog post though.)

Hopefully, the people who need this movie in this particular point in their lives get to see this while it’s playing in theaters. It really is a good movie, and it would be a shame if they just let this one pass them by.

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2 thoughts on “Book to movie review: “The Perks of Being A Wallflower””

  1. Hi
    I just came here from google, searching words “perks of being a wallflower mysterious skin”.
    I’m glad that I found someone who thought the same as me.
    There are so many similarities in these two films even though the writers and directors are completely different.
    I also wish I could watch this film when I was in high school unlike now being 26.

    Thanks for the great review.

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