Every once in a while, a writer gets the unique opportunity to revisit his creation. I must admit that I find it interesting to see what’s changed in the creator’s mind over time. Now, it must be said that the creator can sometimes ‘ruin’ the original spirit of the creation with the re-write (Han shot first, Mr. George Lucas!) by changing a pivotal or important plot point in the storyline. I am pleased to report that this is not at all the case in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. In fact, author of the novel and screenwriter of the movie, Stephen Chbosky has done an exceptional job in adapting his book to a format that works well as a motion picture.
Personally, when reading the book version, I envisioned the treatment to be similar to Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous. I was not disappointed. The neo-Rolling Stone approach carried just the right tone and color without losing any of the magic or nostalgia that a movie visit to the early 1990s promises. For those who remember what music was like back then, you’ll absolutely adore the soundtrack and song selection. A certain David Bowie song (coincidentally, remade by Jakob Dylan’s The Wallflowers) plays a significant part in the movie that will undoubtably leave you with a big smile on your face.
We mentioned in our book for the weekend review that we expected the book and the movie to compliment each other very well. I am pleased to report that this is indeed the case! In fact, I would recommend that you still read the book if you were at all satisfied with the movie. A closer look into the mind of Charlie greatly enhances the movie experience.
POTENTIAL SPOILERS FOLLOW
Now, if you have yet to see the movie, I suggest that you skip to the next paragraph to avoid any potential spoiling of your movie-watching experience… Are they gone? Great. Let’s proceed, shall we? I think that Chbosky’s revised ending was very fitting for the movie version. Some things work in movies, some things work in books, and a movie does benefit from a less ambiguous conclusion than a book. I noticed an air of happy satisfaction as the other people in the cinema stood up to go home while the end credits rolled. Perhaps the only unsatisfying part of the movie is the performance of Emma Watson, who (let’s be honest) is one of the main crowd-drawers of this picture. While the rest of the cast is truly convincing as a group of friends from Pittsburgh, PA, Watson seems a little out of place and there are important, dialogue-heavy scenes that appear to be edited deliberately to cut away from her as soon as possible.
END OF POTENTIAL SPOILERS.
It must be acknowledged that any inadequacies that one may find in the Perks movie are made up for in spades by the simply incredible performance of Logan Lerman, who plays the main character, Charlie. Lerman’s acting ability is indeed tested by the complex and multi-layered character and he delivers incredibly well. He actually does — for all intents and purposes — become Charlie, and you fall in love with the character in the very same way that one does when reading the novel version.
Of course, a hardcore fan may be disappointed by any changes made to the story (not that there are many), but it is reasonable that some things would be left out or condensed purely due to the economics of movie storytelling. A quick read of the paperback will take you about 6-7 hours, but a movie only runs a couple hours and that time change results in some inevitable plot adjustment.
Parents of younger children should be aware that this is a mature, coming-of-age film that focuses on themes such as homosexuality, physical abuse in relationships and drug use. In fact, one may find that the enjoyment displayed by the main characters may sometimes appear to condone the use of drugs such as LSD. Nonetheless, this film is a must-see for any people who loved the book, and is still an excellent work of art for those meeting Charlie, Sam, and Patrick for the first time. At the end of the day, they are interesting people who we are glad to meet, even though we really are all just wallflowers watching their lives too.
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Watch the trailer for The Perks of Being a Wallflower:
At Fully Booked, we’re currently carrying three versions of the paperback.
Take your pick and happy reading!