Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Directed by Stephen Chbosky

Cast: Logan Lerman (1), Emma Watson (2), Ezra Miller (3), Mae Whitman (4), Nina Dobrev (5), Johnny Simmons (6), Kate Walsh (7), Dylan McDermott (8), Melanie Lynskey (9), Paul Rudd (10), Joan Cusack (11), and Nicholas Braun (12)

(Watch the trailer

My favourite quotes - "I'd hate for her to judge me based on what I used to be like.""We accept the love we think we deserve.", "If you fail me, you get me next semester.", "Well, all the great writers used to wear great suits. So your last present is on a towel rack in the bathroom. Delve into our facilities, emerge a star.", "Well you know mom did say you have good friends now, and maybe if it does get bad again, just talk to them yeah.", "Do you think if people knew how crazy you were people won't talk to you?", "We can't choose where we come from, but we can choose where we go from there. I know its not all the answers but it was enough to start putting these pieces together."& "We are infinite."

Did You Know? - The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is based on a book of the same title. Also, the author, Stephen Chbosky, adapted the book himself and directed the film as well. The book is an epistolary novel which is a novel written as a series of documents like letters or newspaper clippings. Recently, electronic "documents" like recordings, blogs, and e-mails have also been used. 

Blink & Miss It - Melanie Lynskey has a blink and miss it part in The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. She played a minor role in Sweet Home Alabama as well. See if you can spot her. 

I hereby declare April to be the month of Emma, and maybe babies. You see, my baby cousin was just born, on the 9th of April actually. And I've been planning, in my head, a series of posts featuring actresses named Emma for the longest time. Well, ever since I knew my uncle was going to name her Emma at least. So I started with Emma Watson and the film highly recommended by my good friend and colleague - The Perks Of Being A Wallflower.

Mr Anderson: You should learn to participate. Why didn't you raise your hand? They call you the teacher's pet, freak, that kind of thing? I used to get 'spaz'. I mean come on. Spaz? You know I heard you had a tough time last year, but they say if you make one friend on your first day you'll be okie. 
Charlie: Thank you Sir, but if my English teacher is the only friend I make today, that would be sorta depressing.
Mr Anderson: Yeah, I can see that.
Charlie: Don't worry Mr Anderson, I'm okay. Thanks. 

Firstly, if I had a teacher like Mr Anderson, played by Paul Rudd, Secondary School might have been so much more bearable. I had favourite teachers of course. But none that I really connected with. But, I was well liked by teachers, and teacher's pet was often a term used to describe me by classmates in school. 

The urban dictionary describes a wallflower as someone who sees everything, knows everything, but does not say a word. They are not loners, they are introverted. They cannot handle having someone pay attention to them even though they crave it as much as the next person. I think the term wallflower could be loosely to describe me when I was in Secondary School. So at the start of the film, watching Charlie struggling on his first day of high school and feeling awkward and wishing it would fast forward to the day of graduation, all that I could relate to. 

Sam: Charlie just told me that his best friend shot himself. I don't think he has any friends.
Patrick: Hey everyone! Everybody! Everyone, raise your glasses to Charlie.
Charlie: What did I do?
Patrick: You didn't do anything. We just want to toast to our new friend. You see things, and you understand. You're a wallflower. What is it? What's wrong?
Charlie: I didn't think anyone noticed me.
Patrick: Well we didn't think there was anyone cool left to meet. So come on, everyone, to Charlie.
Everyone: To Charlie.
Sam: Welcome to the island of misfit toys. 

I've heard so much about how great a film The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is. But I didn't do much reading up on it besides finding out the cast of the film. So I didn't know what to expect. (I once picked up the book and read a few pages but walked out without buying it in the end.) So I was surprised to find that I really liked the film. I liked it so much I watched it twice, back to back. And both times, I still cried watching the film. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I get emotional really easily.)

It's a film about growing up, falling in love, and getting through high school. And it also approaches very serious, very adult, and real issues in a manner than young adults can connect with and understand. But also, the casting director chose an excellent group of actors to play the main characters in the film. The three leads Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, and Ezra Miller each did a wonderful job of showing the strengths and weaknesses of each character and made me love them all for all their good and bad. 

"I'm sorry I hadn't written for a while but I've been trying hard not to be a loser. For example I am trying to participate by listening to Sam's collection of big rock ballads and thinking about love. Sam says they're kitschy and brilliant. I completely agree. I'm also writing essays and studying extra books outside of class. As it turns out Mr Anderson is a writer. He even had a play put up in New York once, which I think is very impressive. He and his wife might go back there after this year. I know this is selfish but I really hope he doesn't. My favourite time though is lunch because I get to see Sam and Patrick. We spend the time working on Mary Elizabeth's fanzine about music and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It's called Punk Rocky. Mary Elizabeth is really interesting because she's a Buddhist and a punk. But somehow she always acts like my father at the end of a long day. Her best friend Alice loves vampires and wants to go to film school. She also steals jeans from the mall. I don't know why because her family's rich but I'm trying not to be judgmental, especially since I know that they were all there for Patrick last year. Patrick never likes to be serious so it took me awhile to get what happened. When he was a junior Patrick starting seeing Brad on the weekends in secret. I guess it was hard too because Brad had to get drunk every time they fooled around. Then Monday in school Brad would say 'Man I was so wasted I don't remember a thing.' This went on for 7 months. When they finally did it, Brad said he loved Patrick. Then he started to cry. No matter what Patrick did, Brad kept saying that his dad would kill him and saying that he was going to hell. Patrick was eventually able to help Brad get sober. I asked Patrick if he felt sad that he still had to keep it a secret. But he said no. Because now Brad doesn't have to get drunk to love him. I think I understand because I really like Sam. I asked my sister about her and she said that when Sam was a freshman the upper class men used to get her drunk at parties. I guess she had a reputation. But I don't care. I'd hate for her to judge me based on what I used to be like. So I've been making her a mix tape so she will know how I feel."

- Charlie Kelmeckis

But of course, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, and Ezra Miller had wonderful material to work with in the first place. The characters are well written and throughout the film, you understand each character just a little bit more. Be it through Charlie's letters or through the characters' interactions in various situations.

Something Charlie says in the above quote really stuck with me. 

"I'd hate for her to judge me based on what I used to be like." 

Everyone has a past. And I too believe that we should try to not be judgmental. It's human to err and everyone makes mistakes too. And I always think about this quote from the Bible "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her". Also, I think good friends will look past the flaws and be more tolerant. And true friends will sometimes scream and shout at you, and remind you of those flaws, especially if they are hurtful. 

"Her best friend Alice loves vampires and wants to go to film school. She also steals jeans from the mall. I don't know why because her family's rich but I'm trying not to be judgmental, especially since I know that they were all there for Patrick last year."

I also really like what he says here. Because he's like me. What I mean to say is that I am fiercely loyal to my close friends. I can tolerant it when someone bullies me or treats me badly. But if that same person bullies my friends, I will feel incensed and will want to stand up for them and kick the bully in the butt for them, only if it won't get them into more trouble of course. 

"Well you know mom did say you have good friends now, and maybe if it does get bad again, just talk to them yeah."
- Chris Kelmeckis 

"Do you think if people knew how crazy you were people won't talk to you?"
- Charlie Kelmeckis

If people knew how crazy I was, they would probably not talk to me. Well, not literally, but I'm hardly perfect. What I'm trying to say is that I am very grateful to my friends. They tolerate my craziness, they've seen me at my worst, and surprisingly, they're still my friends. They haven't run away from me yet! And for that, thank you. Thank you for listening to me rant and rave. Thank you for standing by me no matter how insane I was. And thank you for  being understanding.

"Let's go be psychos together."
- Sam 

Emma Watson is most known for playing Hermione in the Harry Potter films. And although The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is not the first film I've watched her in after the Harry Potter films, I also saw her performance in My Week With Marilyn. But The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is the first film I've watched her in where she's plays a lead character. And the role of Sam is really very different from Hermione. In fact, I think Emma Watson really nailed it as Sam in the film. 

I first noticed Logan Lerman in his role as Percy Jackson in the film Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief. And before The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, I watched him in The Three Musketeers as d'Artagnan. I love his work in The Perks Of Being A Wallflower so much more than in the other two films. But that may be because of the content of the film. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower gives Logan Lerman a lot more to work with in the character of Charlie Kelmeckis.

Ezra Miller is a new face to me as I've never seen any of his previous films. However, he holds his own against Logan Lerman and Emma Watson and really lights up the screen whenever he's in a scene. 

While Nina Dobrev's Candace comes across as aloof and uncaring for her little brother Charlie. I totally get her seemingly sudden concern and her worried expression at the end of the film when she instantly knows Charlie is spiraling down into the rabbit hole. It kind of reminds me of my relationship with my own younger brother. 

My brother recently had a health scare and since he was studying in Brisbane (we live in Singapore) I flew down when I could to keep him company at the hospital and find out more about his illness and how he's doing. This kind of brought us a little closer together. And now, he's probably the only family member who knows a full summarised version of my relationship failures. I am not used to showing that I care for and love my brother. I've only recently started expressing (through writing) that I worry, care for, and love him. I mean, he's my baby brother, and though we both lead very separate lives, like Charlie and Candace, deep down, even though we don't show it, we will always stand by and stand up for each other. 

As for Nina Dobrev's portrayal of Candace, well, we know she can act both the bitch and the angel, so I wasn't very surprised that I found her performance pleasant. However, I have to admit that the Kelmeckis family feels like a little bit like patchwork or a jigsaw puzzle that doesn't really fit well together. Kate Walsh is lovely as 'Mom' though she doesn't get much to work with. Same with 'Dad' played by Dylan McDermott. Even though both 'Mom' and 'Dad' don't get many scenes in the film, their chemistry as husband and white didn't seem to be there. They are all great actors, and individually I see their performances and think they each did a good job with their roles, but as a family, I felt their familial bond was not very evident. It was present and sometimes you feel it, but not very often.

Mrs Kelmeckis: She's on the phone right now? Charlie, you've got to break up with her. 
Charlie: I can do that?
Mr Kelmeckis: For Christ sake, I need to use the phone.

Part of growing up is about making friends, fighting with them, and then making up again. But the other part of growing up is falling in love, falling out of love and managing relationships. I was laughing out loud in the scene above between Charlie and his parents. I think it was his "I can do that?" that really did it for me. After all it is his first relationship and I remember my first relationship and truth be told, I wish I confided in my mum about the ups and downs of all my relationships. 

Charlie: Mr Anderson. Can I ask you something?
Mr Anderson: Yeah.
Charlie: Why do nice people choose the wrong people to date?
Mr Anderson: Hmm... Are we talking about anyone in specific. 
(Charlie nods his head) 
Mr Anderson: Well, we accept the love we think we deserve.
Charlie: Can we make them know that they deserve more?
Mr Anderson: We can try.

"Every woman has the exact love life she wants." This is a line from the film The Wedding Date. I think it's very similar to what Mr Anderson says here, that "we accept the love we think we deserve". And it does make a lot of sense to me. Now that I'm older and hopefully wiser about relationships and love, I know what I want in a relationship and won't settle for less than that. In the past, maybe it was just that I was too young to know what I want, or maybe I didn't think I deserved to be treated better, but now, I can safely say that I know when I'm not getting the exact love life I want, and I now dare to do something about it. 

Of course, I've also come to realise that you must take action and fight for what you want too. You can't just sit and wait for things to happen. I mean come on! Fate can only do so much. They can bring Mr or Ms Right within your sight, but if you don't reach out and grab it, he or she might still slip away. However, that being said, I am a little tired of making the first move. If Mr Right isn't man enough to ask me out on a date, then he's not all that right for me after all I guess.

Sam: I had lunch with Craig today. 
Charlie: Yeah?
Sam: He said he was sorry and that I was right to break up with him. I was driving away and was feeling so small, just asking myself, why do I and everyone I love pick people who treat us like we're nothing. 
Charlie: We accept the love we think we deserve. 
Sam: Then why didn't you ever ask me out?
Charlie: I, erm, I just didn't think that you wanted that.
Sam: Well what did you want?
Charlie: Well I just want you to be happy.
Sam: Don't you get it Charlie? I can't feel that. It's really sweet and everything but you can't just sit there and put everybody's life ahead of yours and think that counts as love. I don't want to be somebody's crush. I want people to like the real me.
Charlie: I know who you are Sam. I, I know I'm quiet. And I know I should speak more. But if you knew the things that are, that were in my head most of the time you'd know what it really meant... how much we're alike, and how we've been through the same things. And you're not small. You're beautiful.

When people read my "reviews" on Entitled To Opinion, they will probably get frustrated if they were traditionalists, looking for a straight up critique of the film. Cos they realise that all my "reviews" focus more on what I take away from the film in regards to it's message, how it makes me feel, as well as how it affects my way of seeing things and the way I think. 

I think that there's usually something about a film that I can relate to and can appreciate no matter whether the graphics is not up to par or the story is boring and predictable. I try to look for the good things in a film. Besides, I think that everyone's preference and taste in anything, be it food, music, film, or books, is different. Who's to say what's right and wrong. Sure, some films have close to no redeeming qualities like Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace, but my point is that what I like or dislike, there is a very high chance that someone else might feel differently than I do. 

Anyway, I went off track here a little. The reason why I mentioned this is because I process my thoughts and feelings better by writing them down. In fact, once upon a time, I actually did write a personal blog which always started with dear xxx. But that was a long long time ago and I have since deleted the blog. It's probably buried in a cemetery, where online content goes to rot.

"I don't know if I will have the time to write any more letters because I might be too busy trying to participate. So if this does end up being the last letter, I was in a bad place before I started high school, and you helped me. Even if you didn't know what I was talking about, or know someone who's gone through it, you made me not feel alone. Because I know there are people who say all these things don't happen. And there are people who forget what it's like to be 16 when they turn 17. I know these will all be stories some day. And our pictures will become old photographs. And we'll all become somebody's mum or dad. But right now, these moments are not stories. This is happening. I am here. And I am looking at her. And she is so beautiful. I can see it. This one moment when you know you're not a sad story. You are alive. And you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder. And you're listening to that song, on that drive, with the people you love most in this world. And in this moment, I swear, we are infinite."
- Charlie Kelmeckis

I spend my weekends trying to write more instead of going out. And it's a good thing because I have a goal and I'm trying my best to achieve it. But I think I need to remember that I shouldn't forget to live a little sometimes. Go out with my close friends, chill out or do something fun together. Make moments and memories that I will look back upon and smile.

"We can't choose where we come from, but we can choose where we go from there. I know its not all the answers but it was enough to start putting these pieces together."
- Charlie Kelmeckis

(1) Logan Lerman has acted in films like What Women Want (2000), The Patriot (2000), Riding In Cars With Boys (2001), The Butterfly Effect (2004), 3:10 To Yuma (2007), Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lighting Thief (2010), The Three Musketeers (2011), Stuck In Love (2013), Percy Jackson & The Olympians: Sea Monsters (2013), and Noah (2014). 

(2) Emma Watson has acted in films like Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone (2001), Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets (2002), Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2004), Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire (2005), Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix (2007), Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince (2009), Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows - Part 1 (2010), Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows - Part 2 (2011), My Week With Marilyn (2011), The Bling Ring (2013), This Is The End (2013), and Noah (2014). She also voiced the part of Princess Pea in the animation The Tale Of Despereaux (2008).

(3) Ezra Miller has acted in films like Another Happy Day (2011) and We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011).

(4) Mae Whitman has acted in films like When A Man Loves A Woman (1994), Independence Day (1996), One Fine Day (1996), Hope Floats (1998), Nights In Rodanthe (2008), and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010). She is known for her role as Ann Veal in the television series Arrested Development and as Amber in the series Parenthood.

(5) Nina Dobrev currently plays the role of Elena Gilbert and Katherine Pierce in the television series The Vampire Diaries (2009-present) and is also known for playing the role of Mia Jones in the series Degrassi: The Next Generation (2006-2009).

(6) Johnny Simmons has acted in films like Evan Almighty (2006), The Spirit (2008), Hotel For Dogs (2009), The Greatest (2009), Jennifer's Body (2009), Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010), The Conspirator (2010), and 21 Jump Street (2012).

(7) Kate Walsh has acted in films like The Family Man (2000), Under The Tuscan Sun (2003), Bewitched (2005), and Legion (2010). She is known for the role of Dr. Addison Montgomery in the television series Grey's Anatomy (2005-2012) and Private Practice (2007-2013). She has also guest starred in shows like Law & Order, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and King Of The Hill (2009). 

(8) Dylan McDermott has acted in films like Steel Magnolias (1989), In The Line Of Fire (1993), Miracle On 34th Street (1994), Three To Tango (1999), Runaway Jury (2003), The Mistress Of Spices (2005), The Campaign (2012), Olympus Has Fallen (2013), and Behaving Badly (2013). He is well known for playing the role of Bobby Donnell in the television series The Practice (1997-2004). He also played Ben Harmon in American Horror Story and  guest starred in television series like Ally McBeal, Will & Grace, and American Horror Story: Asylum. 

(9) Melanie Lynskey has acted in films like Ever After (1998), Coyote Ugly (2000), Sweet Home Alabama (2002), Shattered Glass (2003), Flags Of Our Fathers (2006), Up In The Air (2009), and Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World (2012). She is currently plays the role of Rose in the television series Two And A Half Men (2003-present) and has guest starred in shows like The Shield, The L Word, Psych, and House. 

(10) Paul Rudd has acted in films like Clueless (1995), Romeo + Juliet (1996), The Object Of My Affection (1998), 200 Cigarettes (1999), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Night At The Museum (2006), Knocked Up (2007), Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), I Love You, Man (2009), Dinner For Schmucks (2010), How Do You Know (2010), Wanderlust (2012), This Is 40 (2012), Admission (2013), and This Is The End (2013). He has guest starred in shows like Veronica Mars and Parks And Recreation. 

(11) Joan Cusack has acted in films like Sixteen Candles (1984),Working Girl (1988), Say Anything... (1989), Addams Family Values (1993), Nine Months (1995), Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), Runaway Bride (1999), Where The Heart Is (2000), School Of Rock (2003), Raising Helen (2004), Ice Princess (2005), Friends With Money (2006), Confessions Of A Shopaholic (2009), and My Sister's Keeper (2009). She voiced the character of Jessie in the animation Toy Story 2 (1999) and Toy Story 3 (2010), the character of Verushka the Witch in the animation Hoodwinked Too! Hood VS. Evil (2011), and the mission control elf in the animation Arthur Christmas (2011). 

(12) Nicholas Braun has acted in films like Sky High (2005), Princess Protection Program (2009), and Chalet Girl (2011).

The Eclectic Reviewer thinks... The Perks Of Being A Wallflower surprised me at every turn when I first watched the film. The film made me think about children who grew up in abusive homes or were sexual abused and how it affects them. And watching the effect it had on Logan Lerman's Charlie and Emma Watson's Sam brought me to tears. But The Perks Of Being A Wallflower also gives me hope. It reminds us that we are more than our past. And while "we can't choose where we come from, but we can choose where we go from there". (4 of 5)

* Movie Poster from Wikipedia

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1 comment:

  1. Simple, blunt writing and yet this book has touched my heart and soul. It has provided me with simple explanations of all the complicated extravaganzas in an adolescent's life. A must read in your youthful days, will help you heaps!