Last Monday, I watched a special pre-screening of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which included a Q&A with writer/director Stephen Chbosky. The movie is based on Chbosky's 1999 YA book of the same name.
Since Chbosky wrote the screenplay and directed the movie, it is very faithful to the real story. Only the very beginning of the movie touches on the format of the book, a series of letters from the protagonist Charlie to an unnamed friend detailing Charlie's freshman year in high school.
Seniors Patrick and Sam take Charlie under their wings, but neither are in any position to really help. Patrick is madly in love with one of the school's jock, who can't admit his homosexuality. Sam's lack of self-esteem leads to a series of bad encounters with other boys. A series of tragic events in their lives lead to Charlie's eventual admission that his aunt sexually abused him.
The young actors in the film, Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller brought a visceral reaction to the characters where a certain distance between the reader and the characters in the book. I felt the kids confusion and pain, and frankly, I was bawling through the last fifteen minutes of the movie. Overall, the subplots left out because of the film's length (like the pregnancy of Charlie's sister, also a senior) didn't affect the story. If anything, the story was tightened by leaving them out. (Yes, I have read the book.)
If you haven't read the book, there is much some adults find objectionable: homosexuality, teen sex, teen pregnancy, drug use, alcohol use, etc.
But here are my thoughts:
1) Adults need to get over themselves. Kids are facing these issues NOW, like it or not.
2) If your kids aren't facing these issues, are you helping them to practice on how they'll deal with them when they're eventually faced with them?
3) This movie is an excellent way for parents to open up a dialogue with their kids. By that, I mean ACTUAL LISTEN TO THEM.
This was a beautiful film for anyone age thirteen and up. Especially for the 'and up' crowd.
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