Every now and then, you’ll hear someone mega pretentious harp on about the book, the film, the song, the play, the art exhibition, the whatever that changed them. It moved them to their very core. Made them re-evaluate their whole life. It really changed –
You get the picture. It’s pretty annoying. But I’m about to make the same claim.
When I read Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower aged 18, that was it for me. Life = changed forever. No other book could come close to it. It knocked the socks off Harry Potter, left Jane Eyre in the shade and was miles better than anything anyone would ever write every again.
So when I heard that the author was writing and directing the film version, I couldn’t wait to book my seat in the cinema. I’m so, so glad I wasn’t disappointed.
Perks… tells the story of 15-year-old Charlie (Logan Lerman). A misfit and a loner battling with his own demons, he’s about to start high school and, the night before, starts penning letters to an anonymous friend.
It’s 1991 – life before mobile phones and Twitter- and while times are simpler, the concerns are just the same. It’s all about falling in love, finding that one great song (David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’), reading the right arty books and trying to figure out what life’s all about.
Charlie’s letters take us through the highs and lows of being a teenage misfit with a dark and confusing past. He’s taken under the wing of high school seniors and step-siblings Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller), who guide him through a world of great music, intense friendships, mental illness, parties, first love, drink, drugs and self-discovery, in what turns out to be the most eventful, exhilarating and scariest year of Charlie’s life.
The big-screen adaptation stays pretty true to the book, with our best-loved lines and scenes being played out beautifully by a fantastic cast. Lerman gives a heart-wrenching performance as mentally-ill Charlie, while Emma Watson really embraces post-Potter life as the gorgeous Sam and Ezra Miller takes on the role of flamboyant Patrick with gusto – a million miles from the sociopath role that made him famous in We Need to Talk About Kevin.
The cast, the script, the cinematography, the sound track and attention to detail all join forces to make this one the best coming-of-age movies to hit the big screen for years. Take your tissues though – you’ll soon care about Charlie and his friends more than you ever expected…