Jake’s Movie Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This movie takes on some of the really tough issues in life, which is what makes it so real. (Photo by Flickr user Clowkero used under Creative Commons license.)

By Jake O’Bannon, columnist

For those of you who have read one of my reviews in the past, I want to let you in on a little secret about some of the words you once read: Most of those reviews came pretty easy. I was able to sit down and write what I felt without much apprehension. This week I can’t say history has repeated itself.

My review is over the movie “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” which is based off the 1999 novel by Stephen Chbosky (who also directed the film). The movie tells the story of Charlie (Logan Lerman) – a quiet boy who is starting his first year of high school. Charlie is not the most outgoing of people, as he spends the majority of his personal time with his family and with himself. This obviously causes some anxiety for Charlie as he enters this new, scary stage of life.

The first few days of high school are not what most would call “ideal” for Charlie. But eventually, Charlie works up the courage to talk to an outgoing senior named Patrick (Ezra Miller), who also introduces him to Sam (Emma Watson).
Within a few moments, Charlie has become genuine friends with Patrick and Sam. As a member of the audience, the welcoming hearts and personalities of Patrick and Sam touched me in an unexpected way. I soon found out that the stirring scenes were just getting started.

This film is filled with activity in which I do not personally take part. Drugs, sex, and alcohol are all observed both indirectly and explicitly throughout the film. Each of the main characters struggles through many of the different “things of life.” But is that not what makes film so poignant?

I wrote an article last year about how certain Rated-R films (this particular film is PG-13) meant more to me than those rated below because they really take on the hard stuff of life. Look at your own life – especially your college and high school experience – did you not have instances of drugs, sex, and alcohol present both indirectly and explicitly all around you? “Perks” hits on these topics, and that is why this film is so real.

In a conversation toward the end of the film, Sam asks Charlie, “Why do I and everyone I love pick people who treat us like we’re nothing?” Charlie responds by saying, “We accept the love we think we deserve.”

This is one of those that-will-stick-with-me-forever kinds of quotes. Charlie, Patrick, and Sam all went through life-altering experiences in the early years of their lives. And because of those moments, they learned to feel that the love they deserved was minimal.
There is a reoccurring symbol in the film where the three friends drive through a tunnel listening to what they call the “tunnel song.”

This act always involves someone standing in the back of the truck with his or her hands spread wide. I take this scene as an image of hope. Hope in society, hope in people, and hope in yourself. The film was right – we all go through stuff. Each of us struggles with something. Some of our pasts might have created present guilt and regret. But there is hope in that. And the hope is that we have each other. The hope is that as Charlie, Patrick, and Sam found each other; we have the opportunity to find each other too. And in doing so, we can take part in this whole life thing – together.

I’ve listened to the “tunnel song” every morning since I saw “Perks of Being a Wallflower.” The actual song is “Heroes” by David Bowie. It is a reminder for me that life is filled with community. And there are people who go through the same things that you and I do, and there are people who might need to hear that. And using Sam’s words, we can all be a part of this “island of misfit toys,” together.

Go see this movie.

You won’t regret it.