One of the biggest problems with adapting a beloved novel into a movie is how fans will react.
The Perks of Being A Wallflower is a classic coming of age story that teenagers and adults have held close to their hearts ever since its publication on February 1st of 1999.
When the adaptation was announced just over ten years later, fans were horrified about the novel being adapted by an unknown director.
But here’s the thing, the person responsible for the Screenplay and Directorship of this movie is Stephen Chbosky – the very same man who wrote the novel!
So then – how well does a novel adaptation work when it is being made by the very same person who wrote it in the first place? Is this an example of a novelist transitioning mediums and succeeding, or does this story fail to translate to the big screen?
In this review we’re going to take a close look at The Perks Of Being A Wallflower and how good of a movie it is!
In many ways, The Perks of Being A Wallflower is a classic coming-of-age story. It follows a shy, awkward high school student over the course of his freshman year of high school.
Charlie Kelmeckis has had serious issues with clinical depression throughout his life, and after the death of his best friend, he comes to high school afraid and alone.
After meeting two strange seniors, Sam and her stepbrother Patrick, he is introduced into a new world of parties, social situations, and family turmoil that affect his life both positively and negatively.
There is also an underlying subplot about his family history that eventually comes to the forefront of the story.
What sets this story apart from other coming-of-age plots, is its focus on realism and mental health issues.
In the novel, we learn that Charlie might not be completely truthful in the information he’s presenting to the reader – and the screenplay reflects this with subtle nods in dialogue and scene selection.
The screenplay also focuses on realistic dialogue, which is only made better by the main actors in this movie.
As far as screenplays go, this is as close to the original material as you might hope to find. There are a few small changes, but it mostly follows the exact story of the original.
This movie has a long history of trying to get made, with Chbosky championing its creation from the very start. He began the screenplay soon after the publication of the novel in 1999 and was dead-set on how easy it would be to adapt.
He made sure that he kept the rights so that he could write the screenplay and direct.
This is the main thing that makes this movie so great – as there is a deep understanding of both the characters, the plot, and the aesthetic which all come together to make something that is true to the source material.
Because this is a very character-driven movie, a lot of the movie rests upon the performances of the actors.
Thankfully, the main trio of Logan Lerman (Charlie) Emma Watson (Sam), and Ezra Miller (Patrick) have a deep understanding of their characters and appear to be completely lost in their roles.
It’s clear that the three have a real friendship and this translates perfectly to the screen.
This is Emma Watson’s first major role since the end of the Harry Potter series, and it’s quite a different character from what she played as a younger actor.
Thankfully, she manages the complexity of the role by changing her accent and mannerisms, ultimately creating a character that is sympathetic and emotionally deep.
Towards the end of the movie, Logan Lerman steals the show with some of the most intense emotional moments of the movie – and without this incredible performance, some of the emotional weight of the story would be lost.
Chbosky has complete control of the story in both forms, and it creates a movie that has been made with purpose and attention to detail. The movie looks great, with a nostalgic style that lends itself well to the story.
The pacing of the movie is one of the most impressive parts, and it didn’t get boring at all throughout its 103-minute runtime. Chbosky allows the camera to focus mostly on the performances, which adds to them greatly.
In conclusion, The Perks of Being A Wallflower is one of the most faithful adaptations of a novel you’ll find.
Because of Chbosky’s deep understanding of the story and characters, he has successfully made his novel into a movie that rivals, if not surpass the source material.
This is a must-watch if you’re interested in coming-of-age stories, and although its content is tough at times it ends with a positive message.
If you liked this article, you might enjoy our post on ‘Carrie (2013) Movie Review‘.