I genuinely loved The Perks of Being a Wallflower even if I’m no longer in high school or in my teens. It’s a coming of age story that’s much deeper. It’s smart and it hits you somewhere close to home. Despite its imperfections, it works and even if I’ve seen my share of teen flicks, it doesn’t feel recycled.
Yes, there’s music, drugs, sex, jocks, sexual identity issues and girls hooking up with guys but, there’s a lot of other elements that keep the film strong and relatable.
Maybe it makes us look back on our past or maybe it also points to our present and our constant struggle to come to grasp with our own dysfunctional relationship patterns. After all, the quotable quote of the movie: “We accept the love we think we deserve” is pretty much universal.
More than the protagonist’s growing pains and traumas, this quote becomes a central theme and it cohesively ties each character’s story together. From Sam’s constant dating of guys who cheat and use her, to Patrick’s secret gay affair with Brad, to Mary Elizabeth’s pursuit of and declaration of Charlie as her boyfriend (though somewhat against his will) to Candice’s relationship with ponytail Derek, everyone was accepting the love they thought they deserved.
It seems like such a simple statement, yet it still makes you wonder even if you’re way past your teenage years.
Highlights and Scenes that I’m Partial to includes:
1. Emma Watson’s Sam character asking Charlie (Logan Lerman) why he never asked her out, telling him that she doesn’t want to be someone’s crush and that “If somebody likes me, I want them to like the real me, not what they think I am.”
This strangely tugged at me and I wanted to scream this line to everyone (myself included) who has ever liked someone that could have liked them back, but never did anything.
2. Those scenes between Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman) the mini cougar and Charlie, from the time she pursued Charlie up to the point where he sort of broke up with her via a dare (from a game of truth or dare).
From Mary Elizabeth’s sudden declaration that Charlie was her boyfriend to her non-stop clinginess to Charlie thinking that he’d rather have cancer than be with her and to everything in between, this arc was the biggest comic relief of the movie.
This storyline also serves to illustrate how someone as smart (she got into Harvard) and as alternative (she’s a punk Buddhist) as Mary Elizabeth sold herself short when she stayed with Charlie, someone who passively went through the motions and just sat there like a lump of clay for the duration of their relationship.
3. It feels somewhat like a cliché, but I feel that the “I feel infinite” bit of the movie deserves a small nod here. There is nothing like being young and feeling like the world is at your feet. You can do absolutely anything, like feel the wind touch your face while you’re standing on top of a truck (or was that a pickup?) as you suddenly feel the infinite possibilities of life and the future.
As for Emma Watson, she was just fabulous. If there was ever any doubt that she will have a career after the Harry Potter movies and if anyone was worried that she would suffer under the typecast of Hermione Granger, this movie certainly shatters those doubts. I just loved her as the movie’s Sam.
The Island of Misfit Toys
Misfit toys. This is what Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam calls their little group.
If you transported me back to the 90s, I’d want to hang around with these misfit toys. They’re crazy, damaged, and a tad too trippy for high school standards, but I’d totally go to their house parties. They may not be cool in the high school sense of the word, but they’re so very hip in their own right.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a film based on the young adult novel and best seller by Stephen Chbosky. He also wrote the script and directed the film.