Chbosky, Stephen - The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Film Review)

Stephen Chbosky, Film review, Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller, Referat, Hausaufgabe, Chbosky, Stephen - The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Film Review)
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Film review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is a 2012 US-American film drama based on the novel with the same name by Stephen Chbosky. Chbosky directed the movie himself, the leading roles were portraited by Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller.

The movie’s main theme is the transition from the safe protection of family and childhood into the excitements of adulthood, which is also represented by the tunnel metaphor. The tunnel itself is the adolescence and the city represents the new and a little bit scary adulthood. Other connected themes are friendship, love and sexuality, mental illness, bad experiences and going fearless into the future.

The Protagonist Charlie is a very closed 15-year-old who comes from a family with two older siblings. As a sensitive introverted high school freshman, he has a hard time. The adolescent is mental instable, has psychological problems and often irritating flashbacks from his Aunt Helen’s death for which he feels responsible, but he does not talk to anyone about it. All his trials, tribulations, and triumphs are documented in letters to an unnamed friend, probably his best friend who committed suicide a few years earlier. With time, the friendly teenager becomes more open and finds his place in high school life. Charlie is very empathic and gets to know a lot about his surroundings, he sees and understands as a wallflower.

Patrick is a likeable, not unpopular outsider, who is called "Nothing" by most, but he handles it quite well. He is popular and talks to everyone. Patrick seems to be liked but otherwise the others make fun of him because he is different. During the course of the movie it turns out that he is gay and has to keep his affair with Brad a secret. The eccentric teenager loves football and music from the 70s and 80s. He belongs to a happily mixed circle of misfit friends, in which everyone is a bit special.

Another important character is Patrick’s step-sister and best friend Sam. She is a very confident and positive person, even though she got abused in her childhood. Her powerful and extroverted attendance is the opposite to her transfigured self-image. She does not think she deserves much love and therefore always looks for boyfriends who treat her as if she were not worth it. Just like her brother, she absolutely loves the music of the 70s and 80s. Sam is a very caring person, as she also proves in her kiss with Charlie where she wants to make sure that the first person, he kisses him really loves him. One of her peculiarities is that she stands in a tunnel on the loading area of the pickup and spreads her arms, visibly enjoying it.

At the beginning of the story, Charlie feels very alone. Early in his first year of Highschool, he meets an older student named Patrick who introduces Charlie to his step-sister, Sam. Later the freshman meets the rest of the step-siblings group of misfit friends, and the resulting sense of friendship enables the student to feel more comfortable in school. Even though he is a wallflower who is mostly quiet and watches the lives around him, Charlie tries hard to participate. Another important role on Charlie’s his emotional journey is played by his English teacher, Mr. Anderson, who pays special attention to Charlie and gives him extra books to read.

Although Charlie documents his adventures with his new friends in the letters, his writing also reflects his mental illness which he deals with on a daily base. Charlie worries a lot about other people and tries to see what is going on under the surface of society, but he forgets to think about his own problems. In the continuing story, Charlie's mental instability becomes clearer. He is obsessed with his Aunt Helen, who died on Charlie's birthday when he was a young child. Charlie feels persistent guilty about her death, but his love for Helen is unwavering.

At different points in the story, Charlie meets people who deal with difficult personal issues like drug use, cheating and abortion. Many of these characters have been sexually abused, but Charlie does not react strange to such information until the end. When Charlie is about to have sex with Sam, he finally realizes that Aunt Helen had sexually abused him. He is having a breakdown, but his friends are there for him. When Sam leaves for college, Charlie's downward spiral continues. He is admitted to the hospital when he calls his sister Candace to tell her about his guilt over Helen’s death. she is very worried about him and lets the police drive to their home, as she thinks he might commit suicide. At the hospital, Charlie’s family learns from the doctors what his aunt has done to him. After undergoing several weeks of therapy, he thinks clearly about the fact that his Aunt had molested him every week when he was a young boy. His immense love for her suppressed the memories about these terrifying events.

In the end Charlie announces that he may no longer need to write his letters, because he has started to believe that he has control over his own life and that he does not need to be defined by his past. Charlie's development and growth as a character demonstrate the perks and the drawbacks of being a wallflower.

One of the key scenes I remember is the one where Charlie is high and talks to Sam. While she makes him a milkshake, he tells her that his best friend committed suicide. Sam is absolutely shocked and cannot believe it. Later, she goes to Patrick and asks him to make Charlie a permanent member of their circle of friends. This scene shows how sensitive Sam is and that at first, she feels sorry for him, as he has no friends and no one to talk to. She obviously cares about him, which is the starting signal for the development of their later relationship. The scene also highlights Charlie’s hard past, bringing a little bit of it to light. It may well be seen as one reason for his mental illness.

Another part of the film, which I find very heartwarming and somehow sad, has left a strong impression on me. In a friendly to almost romantic mood, Sam and Charlie are packing Sam’s suitcases and talk about relationships, when she finds out that he has never kissed a girl she says “I just want to make sure that the first person kisses you loves you” and kisses him even though she is in a relationship. For one hand side, this scene brings out Sam’s sad past, because her first kiss was as an eleven-year-old with her father’s boss. On the other hand, she clearly shows her affection for Charlie, but in the course of the film, it is turned out that she does not believe that she deserves his love. Charlie is not the only one who is struggling with his self-image, also Sam does not know her worth, even though she is a very positive and powerful young women.

My personal opinion to the movie is that I actually like it because I think it is about an important subject. But sometimes there are a lot of problems at once, so it seems as if the life of the teenagers is just about problems and depression. However, the cast of the main characters has been very successful, all three give an excellent picture in their role. A weakness of the film are some scenes that seem very funny and cheerful, although they are not supposed to. A local example of this is the tunnel scene, which is actually a nice metaphor, but in reality, it just seems over-covered and affectionate. My personal first thought was “does she wants to replicate Titanic now or what is going on?” Otherwise, the film has succeeded well.

I think I would recommend the film to friends if they want to deal with a difficult but important topic in a nice and entertaining way. But if the just want entertainment, I would better recommend a classical action or romantic film.

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