The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), directed by Stephen Chbosky

What better way to right my mind after a month of horror movies than by going to see a sweet, coming-of-age story? Am I right?

Horror took over my life so I also wanted to catch up on a couple of movies I had missed, hence this review of a movie that came out weeks ago. Deal with it.

Well, this was a shock to my desensitized system. Did you guys know there are movies out there with characters that have complex feelings and can be relatable? Whose purpose isn’t to just scream and die? I know, it blew my mind too.

This movie made me feel all forlorn and emotional and stuff. Scared the hell out of me, frankly. Way scarier than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.

This is the kind of movie that reminds us all just how wonderful and horrible it is to be 16. It is the very definition of “bittersweet.” I left the cinema half devastated and half inspired by the frenetic, uncontrollable energy of youth that this movie captures so well. It’s frankly exhausting to watch but I think a good representation and a good reminder of what it’s like to be a lost, lovesick teen trapped in an adult’s world.

This has to be one of the few cases ever where the author of a novel has directed the film version of that novel. I had no idea this was the case while I was watching the movie, but a friend told me afterwards that’s what was up and that the movie had remained very faithful to the novel, which makes sense.

Chbosky is a first-time director with this film and while I think he did a generally wonderful job I think he has a thing or two to learn about pacing still. While a novel can afford to meander somewhat because generally a reader picks it up and puts it down, there are few things more important to a movie than flow.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower clocks in at 102 minutes and I think the movie could have been well served with about 15 or so of those being chopped. The main reason is that the film is just so darn heavy. We’re dealing with first love and suicide and identity and being in high school and all those things that just break your darn heart. And that’s the strength of the movie, but at some points I just felt the film was drowning in it and that pushed me away.

There is such a thing as laying it on too thick, and what with the melancholy voiceover narration and the endless scenes of misery or segments wallowing in just the sad beauty of it all, it gets a bit much at points. As an audience member you can only take so much if the plot isn’t also progressing in some meaningful, compelling way.

This doesn’t ruin the movie, I still very much enjoyed it and can only imagine how much more I would have enjoyed it at 17, but it could be so much better if it had been tightened up.

What does work works tremendously well. All the young actors are fantastic, especially Logan Lerman as our introverted hero Charlie. Ezra Miller, out to prove himself more than a cold-faced killer named Kevin, is also electric as Patrick, a gay senior student dealing with all that you can imagine that brings. And in one of her first post-Potter roles, Emma Watson shows signs of being an actress that will soon be coming into her own.

And then there’s the music and the tragic splendour and the drugs and the love and first kisses and all that. I loved how the characters didn’t know what song David Bowie’s “Heroes” was, that was cute. Remember discovering those types of things and how significant that was? It’s getting harder and harder to find new things to get excited about, one of the downsides of maturing, but we should all occasionally look at the world through our old teenage eyes. We would remember what’s important.

By no means a perfect movie, or even an excellent one, I still very much enjoyed the experience of watching The Perks of Being a Wallflower and remembering that time in life, with all its wonder and tragedy.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is in theatres now.