I love books. I love to read—always have, always will. English was my favorite subject in high school and I graduated my liberal arts college with a degree in English and Comparative Literary Studies. I know of reading and the intrinsic beauty of a great book. I’ve studied it, I’ve written about it and I’ve done so most of my life. If I’ve been committed to any one thing my entire life, it’s been books. But I will say this: no book has ever made me feel what a movie can.
And it’s been a very long time since a movie made me feel the way The Perks of Being A Wallflower did.
Forget cinematic analysis, I’m going to have to write this one from the heart. I walked out of the movie literally 30 minutes ago and I cannot sleep until I get this out. Who knows, I may wake up in the morning, read this, trash it all and start over, but, for now, this is honest emotional spillage.
I loved this movie. Check that, I LOVED this movie. If you’ve been following my blog for the past couple of months, you know that I’ve been celebrating my 30th year of loving movies by writing about my favorite movies of every year since 1982. Doing these retrospectives has reminded me of how much I used to connect with movies, how they used to move me. I find myself rarely getting emotionally invested in movies anymore—I get intellectually intrigued, artistically impressed or philosophically challenged, but I really can’t remember the last time a movie really reached in and moved the furniture. Until now.
What’s this movie about? Well, it’s a trite premise: it’s about the high school experience. It’s about not fitting in, finding friends, losing friends, feeling alone, feeling out of place and trying to cope with, well, being alive. It’s basically every John Hughes movie ever written. So yes, it’s been done before. So I’m either in an incredibly emotionally vulnerable place right now or this movie has accomplished what no teen movie has ever done: get it right.
How right? It hits every note perfectly. Nothing is overplayed, overwrought or overdone. The relationships are believable, the characters are relatable and the dialogue is credible. But, mostly, these are people I enjoyed to be around and I never wanted to leave them. To say I cared would be the understatement of the year.
I really love to be surprised by a movie. Sadly, that never happens anymore, because I see too many trailers, follow too many movie bloggers, read too much Twitter and live in Los Angeles. But this one got me. I’ll be honest, I’d been distracted by too many other higher profile movies to even notice this one when it came out and I was forced to go by my girlfriend, who wanted to support Emma Watson in her first post-Harry Potter role. 2 lessons learned: never underestimate the underdog and always listen to your girlfriend.
If this movie comes and goes from the theatres and nobody sees it as it gets swallowed up by all the movies being pushed for Oscar consideration, it will be the year’s biggest tragedy. So hear me now: The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a movie worth your time and money. It pushes every emotional button in every right way. It introduces you to people you wish you could know in real life. And it just might remind you of what movies are supposed to do: make us feel.
Well done, writer/director Stephen Chbosky. Thank you for a movie I will be buying on blu-ray and will probably watch as many times as Pretty in Pink. That’s a pretty high compliment. I’m sorry I didn’t read your novel of it first. But it’s movies like this that have made me almost give up books altogether.