“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” opens nationwide today.
Since the release of the book in 1999 The Perks of Being a Wallflower has become both a cult classic amongst teenagers and a target for morality campaigners. Apparently parents objected to the book having depictions of drug taking, adolescent sex and a strong gay character. Are they not the things which make a book worth reading?
Charlie is an introverted 15 year with a history of mental illness. He’s naive and awkward, unable to pretend to understand what motivates others and assimilate with the other teenagers at school. He gets taken under the wing of a stepbrother and sister and gradually starts to experience life instead of just watching from the sidelines. He joins in their life of parties, recreational drug taking and dressing up as Rocky Horror characters.
The film depicts teenage misfits and the pain of being different and gauche with style and feeling. The soundtrack is great (The Cocteau Twins, David Bowie and The Smiths, amongst others) and the story is moving but with episodes of comedy to lighten the tone. Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk about Kevin) plays Sam, a Rocky Horror loving openly gay teenager who’s having a relationship with a “straight” football player. There’s pathos in his portrayal and it bought to mind my own slightly difficult school years.
This is definitely a film which will appeal to anyone who feels like they didn’t fit in easily. The night I saw the film, the mainly teenage audience clapped and cheered at the end of the film, which was sweet. It’s not just a film for teenagers though. I found plenty to like in it. My only reservation is that the film is slightly earnest in parts but I’d still recommend it, whatever age you happen to be. I’m not sure we ever lose that slightly bewildered teenage self fully and it’s good to be reminded of it.