Wow! Highschool sucks!
Stephen Chbosky made a bestseller when he penned the dark, dramatic teen novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The book is filled with raw emotion that is impossible to recreate through a screen telling, which is why I was interested with how the book would translate.
This is a rare case in which the author, Chbosky, actually wrote the screenplay and directed his novel’s adaptation. So immediately, I cannot criticize that the author would have not liked the version because the author made the film.
We are immersed in Charlie’s world from the beginning to the end of both the book and the movie. In the book we have a first person narration and in the movie we have voiceovers taking some lines verbatim from the novel. Charlie is played by Logan Lerman who up to this point has portrayed mainly roles in blockbuster style movies: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, 3:10 to Yuma, and The Three Musketeers. In the book, Charlie is such a vivid yet shy character that grows and buds while still remaining mostly inside of his own head. It takes a lot to pull off such a complex character by making him look simple. Lerman astonishes as Charlie. He is brilliant in this role, which I consider to be one of the better acting jobs done in 2012.
Emma Watson and Ezra Miller have both had their share of success. Watson is most know for the Harry Potter saga and seems to have a bright future ahead of her. Miller was in “We Need to Talk about Kevin” and brought some critical acclaim as the disturbed child. But in “Perks” they don’t measure up to Lerman. There are times when it even feels uncomfortable. Is it the lines? The direction? Who knows? All that is conveyed is that the movie isn’t seamless because of some of the actors. Paul Rudd plays a empathetic English teacher who takes a liking to Charlie and is somewhat of a buffer for him during highschool. He heightens Charlie’s interest in literature and helps him achieve things academically without becoming a trite tutorial figure. He is really good in this role, though it’s not a very large one.
The problem that I have with “Perks” arises when it is placed in comparison with the book. The novel is haunting and deep while the movie comes across as a little too light-hearted for the subject matter at hand. Even though no one can say that it’s a feel-good film, it’s still way too cheerful to keep up to the pace of the book.
It feels like you’ve wasted your time going to see the movie until the ending. This is where the book and the movie are reversed. The movie’s ending is incredible and the book’s is a little weak. Although I would have liked the movie to end two minutes before it did to keep the sympathy for Charlie’s character alive even after the film is over, it’s fine with me that the book and movie have different endings because the author directed. If it’s his creation, how can I say that it shouldn’t have ended the way he chose for it to?
Overall, “Perks” is good. It’s dim, not dark; shallow, not deep; moving, yet not overbearing. It could have used a little refinement but for what it is, it’s a good film
Score: 3 stars out of 4