Advertisements

Posts Tagged ‘ Emma Watson ’

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower…

Based upon the critically acclaimed book of the same name by author Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Perks) first published in 1999 and released on the big screen here in Ireland today is undoubtedly one of the best teen movies of all time. Yes, really. Foregoing the kind of condescension so typical of the teen genre Perks tells the story of a quiet and somewhat troubled high school freshman called Charlie (played by Logan Lerman) and his yearlong journey to find himself. This journey he completes with the help of a lovable group of outcasts and one particularly caring English teacher (Paul Rudd) who sees something special in Charlie and quickly becomes his mentor…

Although bright, caring and loyal Charlie enters high-school a friendless and shy loner with poor social skills. Naturally, it is not long before we learn that Charlies “difficulties” stem from the fact that he has been carrying some pretty heavy baggage around with him since his seventh birthday when his favourite aunt (played in flashbacks by Melanie Lynsky) died in a car crash – a tragedy which he cannot help but feel partially responsible for. Sadly that is not all that has gone wrong for Charlie and he is still struggling to come to terms with the recent suicide of his best or rather his only friend. What is it they say, when it rains it pours? Just when it seems the kid is destined to live out his remaining 1,385 days of high-school (Yes, he’s started a countdown!) in total anonymity, a fate we know can even be worse than constant ridicule from classmates – at least then you’re on the map – things take a turn at a school sporting event.

Having plucked up the courage to sit beside and introduce himself to an outgoing, funny and gay senior by the name of Patrick (The sensational Ezra Miller who played Tilda Swintons psycho son in We Need To Talk About Kevin) from his school shop class Charlie makes his very first friend. It is through Patrick that he is introduced to Sam (Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame) another senior with a reputation for being somewhat promiscuous – You needn’t have read the book to see where this one is going folks! With this begins the greatest adventure of Charlies life thus far as he is taken under the wing of these seniors and becomes acquainted with the finer points of adolescence such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show, cool bands (truly the films soundtrack which features numbers from the likes of Pavement and Cracker is just sublime!) drugs, style and of course romantic and sexual relationships.

While the movie does of course get many things right (hence its opening to rave reviews in America) one of Chbosky and Co.s greatest achievements is the way in which they manage to capture the excitement that goes hand in hand with the wet yourself like fear of being a newcomer to a crew of older, infinitely cooler and seemingly self possessed role models. Starting off as a sort of surrogate brother we see Charlie become a sort of repository for the groups deepest and darkest secrets and eventually a fully fledged and truly loved member of the gang. Watching the groups friendship deepen and strengthen over time Chbosky somehow manages to make us, the viewers, feel as if we too are becoming beloved members of the group. Now, when people say this kind of thing I’m usually the first to dismiss it with a cynical wave of the hand and a “Yeah Yeah” but believe me, you will get sucked in, and you will become invested in these characters and their respective stories no matter how hard you try to resist. Despite drawing attention to all that teenage angst and hardship this is one of those movies that will leave you feeling nostalgic for a time when making mixed tapes (or in my case CD’s) was your sole passion in life and a way to express all the goings on of your hormone-addled brain, a time when friendships meant the world to you and crushes were so intense you felt you would die if your feelings weren’t reciprocated! Certainly this is one of those rare films that could potentially achieve the legendary like status of others such as The Breakfast Club.

Despite being the films biggest star I have to say Emma Watson gave what was perhaps the weakest performance of the entire film. Naturally there are those who feel the actress has truly escaped her Harry Potter past in which she played Hermione Granger but it seems to me that the actress has yet to graduate as it were. Perhaps it’s just that I can’t see the super smart and clean living actress as the promiscuous dater of losers that is Sam or perhaps she was just concentrating too hard on getting that American accent just right but for some reason there was a disconnect. Whatever you do however, do not let that put you off as Logan Lerman gives a stellar performance as the young Charlie and Ezra Miller is a superb and scene stealing tour de force from start to finish!

While there are countless coming-of-age movies out there detailing the harsh realities shy kids and outcasts must face up to during adolescence not many can compare to Perks which can only be described as a heartrending and hauntingly honest production. Undoubtedly this comes as a result of Chboskys getting the oh-so-rare opportunity to direct this, the film version of his novel. As we all know there are countless horror stories out there about how beloved works are destroyed by uncaring and clueless directors and producers whose goal is to make a quick buck but with Chbosky directing this was never going to be an issue. As such his genuine affection for and understanding of the story, its setting and its characters shines through in every single scene. From the very beginning viewers get the sense that this undertaking was a real labour of love for the writer/director. Speaking to reporter Karen Durbin, Chobsky elaborates;

“Charlie was my guardian angel. In my mid twenties I went through a bad break up. It was so painful, I was either going a little crazy or I was going to write something. I’ll never forget it. It was a Saturday morning, and I woke up thinking about this boy and two older friends flying at night through Pittsburgh’s Fort Pitt Tunnel. And I realised that I’d had the title The Perks of Being a Wallflower in my mind for years.”

Charlie, as it turns out soon became the guardian angel of many others. Beginning work on the film Chbosky told his cast and crew “Whatever you’re doing on this movie, you may also be saving a life” and no, he wasn’t exaggerating. Since the novels release over a decade ago the author has received a myriad of letters from readers the world over claiming that it has helped them to make it through the darker times ultimately saving their lives. Is it any wonder then that the director wanted so badly to make the film version of this beloved work a success? It was no longer about him alone, now he had an obligation to his fans and boy did he come through.

Leaving the theatre and stepping back into the light of day I felt both old and young all at once and so will you but there is nothing quite like the feeling you are left with, knowing as you walk away that you have just experienced something good, something raw, something real. Perhaps now Hollywood will finally realise that authors do in fact know a little something about their own work?  One can only hope!

P.S. Now based in Los Angeles with his wife and newborn baby, Chbosky is writing a second book. This one he describes as an emotional horror written in tribute to one of his favourite writers Mr Stephen King. Watch this space folks!

Advertisements
Advertisements
Advertisements