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We May Not Get Movies Like ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ Anymore

Emma Watson as Sam, facing the tunnel

The movie has been here for 9 years now. It has since then been widely criticized and several praised for its authenticity and triumph in capturing the high and lows of the high school era. The movie was based on a 1999 novel written by Stephen Chbosky that has become an instant classic. Stephen directed his own written story to the big screen, and it is not disappointing. This came to no surprise as he has a background in filmmaking before, handling a musical drama movie ‘Rent’ in 2005 starring Idina Menzel, which also got good recognition. But his eternally timeless work would definitely be the 2012 film he directed called ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’. It is a story of a high schooler called Charlie, played exceptionally by Logan Lerman, experiencing a sequence of drama through high school. This movie was not really popular during its first release, but then everything goes uphill as the move got recommended more and more by fans who have watched it. So what makes the movie stands out from another teenage film, actually? And would we get The Perks of Being a Wallflower anytime soon? We are about to break it down.

More than a teenage movie

What can seriously be expected from an American depiction of teenage life? Drugs? Checked. Cellphones? Checked. Perhaps some brutality? Checked. Bully? Checked. In this movie, it is the psychological playground that plays the most part in turning our hearts around. But The Perks of Being a Wallflower use all the elements to really make the whole story captivating.

In the beginning, we would think that it’s just about another high school underdog story. As the film rolls, we realize that it is a lot more than that. There is no aspect and sequence that are wasted in the films. The character’s interests, what they’re doing, personal love stories, and even their style perfectly suit their character. Props to all th cast who do their job in all the precise details. We see each character grow and react to painful and beautiful things in the run of highschool melodrama and peak pubescent. Nothing is hidden, nothing is wasted. Chbosky cleverly used each angle to tell a coherent story in each scene while making it eye-pleasing. It is the kind of movie that would speak to us at any age, no matter how far we would grow up. It reminds us that we always have a sense of underdog and misfit at least once in our life.

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The characters are real people.

We often see a teenage movie like something slippery on our hands that would easily get away once we are finished watching it. Some characters in the teenage movies are either a no-brainer stereotypical highschool protagonist, It is because nothing showed much in the psychological aspect of the character. Take a look at the 2019 Netflix drama ‘All the Bright Places’ which has the same theme of teenage angst, abandonment, and suicide. And yet, it does not feel intense because the whole thing feels rehearsed in an alternate universe. Throughout the film, we are served with too many cliches about things that will probably never happened in real life. That is not the case with The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

The main character Charlie is an unparalleled character with unspeakable depth in his mind. And yet, it is perfectly told over and over through so many scenes. The characters are hard, but they are still relatable instead of untouchable. This could easily be proven in some scenes unless you skipped them. Not to mention it has one of the best, if not the actual best, mental breakdown scenes in teenage movie history. Those two minutes near the end that make your mouth agape is a pivotal point of the movie, and it was delivered phenomenally by Logan Lerman and the rest of the cast.

When Charlie calls his sister Candace (Nina Dobrev) that was in her friend’s house, you can sense the pain and confusion in Candace’s expression. The director Stephen Chbosky clearly wants every scene to be perfectly on point. And the tunnel scene in the movie surely is both metaphorical yet pretty unlikely to happen in the real world. But with the cleverness of Chbosky, he added David Bowie’s classic song ‘Heroes’ to cover them all. The city lights that are rapidly moving when the car goes fast in the tunnel go hand in hand with the He tolerates no misses and waste, and so he gathered one of the best ensemble cast in a movie. The characters are one, and there’s no visible gap between them, and they interact in a way anyone would see them as real people.

It felt nostalgic but also very present.

Chbosky plays in the pace of a burning axis, it burns slow but eventually gets more interesting until everything explodes, and you will cry your eyes out knowing the character’s journey. The film has a soft vintage nuance to it that you can shake off. This was a genius move, considering the movie was originally set in 1999 when everything is shifting. There were no cellphones back then, and the characters are dressed in a scarily accurate typical 90s fashion (Except Charlie, who once dressed like Sinatra). Plus, the first-person narrative in the movie (and the book) effective enough to give us these timestamps through Charlie’s unforgettable journey.

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It is about change after all.

We consider that each time you watch the movie, you will find different hidden ‘easter egg’ that would make you re what the movie really is about. The movie is about the roller coaster of adolescence and teenage confusion. But we rather think that it is about change. In the ending, Charlie is not the same person as he was at the beginning, nor is everyone else. Charlie’s second ‘tunnel’ experience is also not the same as the first one. In the first one, he was looking to Sam (Emma Watson) having the time of her life in a breezy wind on a pickup car. Charlie the wallflower is looking to her eyes with a sense of wonder, as he never felt that way and wonder if he would ever feel that way that Sam does. Pure joy without fear of judgment.

In the second tunnel scene, Charlie is the one stretching her hands out on a fast-moving car rode by Patrick (Ezra Miller). He was finally experiencing life as opposed to looking at other people experiencing life, which he always did. The other characters may experience life sooner than Charlie, but they also are not the same person that they were in the first half of the film. Candace (Nina Dobrev)finally knows her worth and decided to break up with her abusive boyfriend Derek, Sam finally knows that she is worth going to fancy college like Penn State and stop messing around with boys he doesn’t love while Patrick is finally coming out of the closet, telling the whole world who he really is. It is sometimes overlooked that the story is not only about Charlie’s introverted underdog triumph and fiasco, but it is about finding people who are also finding themselves.

One in a million

Mae Whitman, Ezra Miller, Erin Wilhelmi

Teenage or coming-of-age movie evolute themselves throughout the decade. But what do we actually got from this evolution? We got the Lara Jean trilogy about one girl’s fixation on boys, ‘Booksmart’ in 2019 about underdog’s yearning for high school success, and many other films that are honestly, quite forgettable. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is once in a lifetime move that simply leads in the elite category of a high school drama film. It has successfully reenacted the feelings of high school infinity. It shows us that anything can happen while we’re young, but also not. That thing can change for the better if only friends are there to support us. That introverted people can turn things around them. It is the kind of movie you can’t help but adore. The kind of movie you are giving a piece of your heart to and live with it forever. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a rare occasion in cinema history.

A writer, a thinker, and a movie/book enthusiast. Here Abisena shares his love and excitement for pop culture.

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