“We are infinite.”
Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age story about a teenager named Charlie as he discovers drugs, love and sex in the most non-threatening way. “Wallflower” refers to someone who stands idly by at social gatherings and observes others, like a loner or an introvert. Although the movie centers on Charlie’s story, his “wallflower-status” allows a certain distance between the scenes in the film and the audience, the same way Charlie would experience it. This is one of the only few film adaptations that matched up to its written counterpart, retaining its charm.
One reason why Perks of Being a Wallflower has gained such a huge cult following is because of the innate sense of nostalgia it evokes. The film was set in the 90s throughout the duration of the film and the audience is constantly reminded of that. There are obvious references from that era such as the exclusive uses of cassette types, the relevance of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and most importantly, the iconic soundtrack of the film, which included The Smiths tracks and Heroes by David Bowie. For the adult audience, these are memories from their distant; they relive their glorious, high school youth through the eyes of Charlie, making the film a preservation of their youth, one that they can relive “infinite[ly]”. For the younger audience, it is more of a bonus, an informative insight on how the world was like before their time. Perhaps, their curiosity or the grace of the 90s can create a sense of longing for an era that they have never experienced.
Unlike other films, portrayal of drugs and alcohol usage is a lot more realistic. In the film, there is a scene where Charlie tries marijuana for the first time with a brownie and without realising it, he becomes high and asks for a milkshake. The scene is funny and harmless, and for most youths, their encounters with weed were just as innocent. The film does not criminalise drugs, sex and alcohol. In fact, despite the heavy adult themes, the film manages to switch the focus to self-discovery. The narrative encourages the audience to be proactive, to not be afraid to discover every aspect of themselves even if it makes making mistakes. They help reconcile the idea that growing up, and taking drugs, having sex and drinking alcohol, although frowned upon by society, are not entirely wrong to do.
In conclusion, the film itself captures the high school experience where we were all a “Charlie” at one point or another: shy and awkward at first before metamorphosing to be a little more extroverted as we take advantage of the melancholic freedom of our youth. No matter what kind of teenager you were, you will relate to Charlie to a certain degree, especially the ones that feel that they are not living “infinite” lives. They will relate to freshman, pre-bildungsroman Charlie and even when they are completely inexperienced, they will get to experience that lifestyle through Charlie. This film is everyone’s “infinite” moment.
– John Hughes, the director of The Breakfast Club, was initially set to direct the film before his untimely death in 2009.
– Stephen Chbosky, who wrote the book the film is based on, also wrote the screenplay and directed it.
– Ezra Miller did his audition over Skype and was casted within 5 hours.
– Emma Watson was casted after the director saw her performance in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
– A lot of details in the book were cut to avoid an R rating.
AVERAGE RATING: 4.83/5
By: Angela Mae Macasinag