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There’s hope and joy in Perks of Being A Wallflower

Paul Peterson

Paul Peterson

Well here’s your Academy Award show review.
Argo won Best Picture. I think that’s terrible in terms of the other films it was up against but ok, it captured a fairly heroic moment in their history and it really was a good film. It just wasn’t the picture of the year.

Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress which was a bit of an upset but Daniel Day Lewis winning Best Actor was no surprise at all. He was Lincoln.
Christoph Waltz won Supporting Actor and that was a terrible choice . The winner should have been Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln. He was amazing.

Anne Hathaway won Supporting Actress for Les Miserables but come on. We all know it was a lead role. Set Fire to the Rain was best song with Adele doing her usual amazing performance and Ang Lee won for Best Director, which was righteous.

A movie that wasn’t nominated for any awards as far as I know and doesn’t need that kind of recognition is The Perks of Being A Wallflower starring Emma Watson, Ezra Miller and Logan Lerman as Charlie.
Charlie is odd. Not quite a sad sack loser but he has that potential. We meet him on his first day of high school. He’s very introspective and we learn from his letters to an anonymous friend that he  has a troubled past.
He spent some time in a mental hospital after his best friend committed suicide.
I don’t recognize the actor playing Charlie but he pulls it off. Portraying someone with a mental illness that is just on the fringes is tough for anyone, but I think it’s especially hard to do it in an adolescent. It can easily border on just plain mopey or brooding.
Charlie isn’t any of that.
He’s fun and can smile and he knows he wants a friend. Just one. To help him are his parents who are a little too worried and a little too easy to snow and his older sister who, well how cool could she be. She’s his older sister right? There’s a brother who’s a football star at Penn State, who shows up eventually and then there’s Patrick and Sam step-brother and sister who own this movie and remind us how easy it is to be nice to people and the power that can have.
After a chance encounter in shop class, Charlie seeks out Patrick at a football game and the guy lets him sit with him. They meet Sam after the game and go driving and partying and there is this energy that Charley falls right in stride with that kind of makes everything ok.
I loved Patrick’s character. He has the kind of manic energy and brilliant intellect that usually results in a much darker malevolent character these days. However, writer/director Stephen Chbosky plays nice with the other kids and it really made the movie for me.
Nice people being nice to each other amid a sea of nasty known as high school.

Miller has charisma and I would watch another film with him in it just to see him. One of the ongoing story points is their participation in a Rocky Horror Picture Show troupe, and Miller becomes Dr. Frankenfurter.
Meanwhile back at the oasis, Charlie is still troubled but it’s manageable.
Chbsky’s use of flashback is effective and calculated and we think we know what Charlie’s problem is, but not so fast my friends.
There is the mythical aunt, Charlie’s inspiration and support. As the story moves on, we realize that even that is about to unravel on poor Charlie. Except he really isn’t poor Charlie because he has some great people in his life.
One of them is the surprise hit of the movie and I have to apologize to a friend of mine. We’ll call her Judy, because that’s her name. I didn’t recognize Harry Potter’s Emma Watson because she so completely owned the role of the senior American high school student with a sketchy past and considerably bad taste in women that I thought it was Emma Stone.
I stand corrected.
She’s great. Every great movie about teenage angst needs a hopeless  love interest and she’s perfect.

Things go well for Charlie and then things go terribly wrong and both sides of that are real and credible and break out hearts. Spoiler alert. This is a nice movie, so relax. We get the payoff we want at the end.
I just was ready for this movie. Where the sister rises up and does something great, where people put aside their petty crap to just connect and where everything doesn’t work out Disney delightful but there’s hope and joy.
As an aside, as a survivor and a counsellor, I thought the film’s handling of Charlie’s abuse was pitch perfect and kudos for taking on something surprising and handling it well.
I really loved this movie. I’m not overselling it. I’ve seen Game of Thrones and Dexter. I know about the dark side. I visit there frequently. But I was ready for this movie and it made me feel good and I was regretting every scene because I knew I was getting closer to the end and I didn’t want to let these people go. That’s all I need to say. The Perks of Being A Wallflower is a great little film.
As always, other opinions are welcome, but wrong. That’s it for this week. The cheque’s in the mail and I’m outta here. Paul

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElsePaul Peterson

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  1. Johna says:

    Christoph Waltz was definitely the best of these actors! He was brilliant in ‘Django Unchained’! 😉

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