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Film & TV Reviews

FILM REVIEW: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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This month’s book club pick is Stephen Chbosky‘s 1999 novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower. A film adaptation, written and directed by Chbosky was released in 2012.

It is unusual for a book author to write and direct a film version of their story. Although Chbosky did graduate from the University of Southern California’s screenwriting programme and write, direct and act in an independent film The Four Corners of Nowhere (1995) before publishing The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Stephen Chbosky with Emma Watson and Logan Lerman
Stephen Chbosky with Emma Watson and Logan Lerman

He later went on to write he screenplay for film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical Rent (2005) and co-created and executive produced the television drama Jericho (2006-2008). On a side note, Chbosky has written the screenplay for Disney’s live action version of Beauty and the Beast (due for release 2017). He is also one of the screenwriters for The Divergent Series: Allegiant (due out next month).

John Hughes, the man behind 80s teen films Sixteen Candles (1984) Weird Science (1985) and The Breakfast Club (1985), and the scriptwriter of the now classic Christmas family films Home Alone (1990) and Home Alone: Lost in New York (1992), initially was attached to write the screenplay but never finished it before his death. Chbosky liked Hughes screenplay so he negotiated the rights from Hughes’ estate and developed it.

Sam (Emma Watson), Charlie (Logan Lerman), Patrick (Ezra Miller)
Sam (Emma Watson), Charlie (Logan Lerman), Patrick (Ezra Miller)

Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson series) portrays Charlie. Emma Watson (Harry Potter series) and Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin) portray step-siblings Patrick and Sam, who Charlie befriends.

The trio have great onscreen chemistry. This was Watson’s first big role post Harry Potter (after a small role in My Week in Marilyn). She is pretty comfortable with the American accent but it is Miller that steals the show as the flamboyant Patrick.

Charlie (Logan Lerman)
Charlie (Logan Lerman)
Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson)
Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson)

The novel is written is a series of letters from Charlie to an unknown friend. Chbosky uses this narrative function briefly in the film with Lerman doing voice over for the letters but prefers to show rather than tell.

Some of the darker incidents of the novel have been cut from the film. Overall it’s a pretty faithful adaptation, the essence of the story is there and the young cast shine in their roles.

Categories
Book Club Pick

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Book Club Pick: February 2016

Perks of being a wallflower

Book Details:

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author: Stephen Chbosky

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: United States

Publisher: Gallery Books / MTV Books

First Published: 1999

Pages: 213

Publisher’s Description:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a story about what it’s like to travel that strange course through the unchartered territory of high school. The world of first dates, family drama, and new friends. Of sex, drugs, and the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

Review:

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This coming-of-age novel is written as a series of anonymous letters that fifteen-year-old high school Freshman Charlie writes to someone he has never meet but thinks will understand him. He addresses the letters as only as ‘Dear Friend’. The 53 letters span a period from August 1991 to August 1992.

When the novel opens Charlie is dealing with the suicide of his middle school friend Michael the year before and the death of his favourite aunt Helen, during his early childhood. Charlie befriends Patrick, an openly gay teen from his shop class, and his step sister Sam. Both are older, outsiders – but they are the cool kind of outsiders. They introduce Charlie to parties, drugs and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Rocky Horror Picture Show

The novel tackles some tough issues through Charlie’s eyes including suicide, domestic violence, sexual abuse, rape, teen pregnancy, abortion, drug use, homosexuality, death of a family member, mental health.

Stephen Chbosky also wrote and directed the feature film adaptation that was released in 2012 and starred Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller.

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Links:

Stephen Chbosky on Twitter

 

Source: I borrowed a copy of this book from my public library.