By Stephen Chbosky
Genre: Romance, Drama
Interest Level: 9th-12th+
Awards: People’s Choice Awards (2013), Teen Choice Awards (2013), GLAAD Media Awards (2013), National Board Review Awards (2012)
Teaser: One minute he’s completely invisible and alone. And in the next he’s being pulled along by the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen.
Summary: Charlie is a teenager who has experienced trauma at an early age. Suffering from clinical depression he has been in and out of mental health institutions for years. He begins his freshman year of high school and is immediately introduced to two people who will incontrovertibly change his life forever: Sam and Patrick. As he mourns for his best friend who committed suicide the year before, he opens himself up to the new experiences that his friendship with Sam and Patrick creates. Charlie soon finds himself falling for Sam, but she has her own traumas to overcome, and she has a boyfriend. When he’s asked out by one of Sam’s friends, he does not know how to turn her down without hurting her feelings and he is afraid of losing Sam and Patrick as friends. Charlie ends up hurting Mary Elizabeth anyway and the outcome is as expected. Charlie starts getting depressed once again, and it is not until he and Sam make up with each other that he starts revealing the truth about his past.
Information about the Director: According to Chobsky’s bio on the Simon & Schuster website, “Stephen Chbosky wrote and directed the feature film adaptation of his award-winning novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. He has worked in film and television, on projects including the film version of the smash-hit musical Rent; the TV show Jericho; and others. He also edited Pieces, a collection of short stories for Pocket Books. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Chbosky graduated from the University of Southern California’s Filmic Writing Program. His first film, The Four Corners of Nowhere, premiered at Sundance Film Festival. Follow Stephen on Twitter @StephenChbosky.”
Critical Evaluation: Perks of Being a Wallflower was an amazing movie. Logan Lerman did a fantastic job playing Charlie. He managed to be quite vulnerable without losing his stoic-ness. He does well at playing soft spoken characters, but in this movie he was especially riveting. As someone who has read the book, I thought Logan Lerman was the perfect Charlie. Emma Watson and Ezra Miller also did a wonderful job. Emma Watson’s American accent did not quite fool me, but I was surprised at how free and flamboyant she was in this movie compared to her other roles. Ezra Miller plays the typical joker who thinks high school is one big joke. Much like Charlie, Patrick goes through some difficult, emotional turmoil and tries to maintain his façade. Overall, the actors did a great job bringing this novel alive.
Curriculum Ties: Psychology, Sexuality
Booktalk Ideas: This movie is a coming-of-age story, what is a significant difference between the Charlie at the beginning of the movie to Charlie at the end of the movie?
Challenge Issues: Sexuality, Depression, Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse
Challenge Resources: Rationale for choosing this book (see “Why Did I Pick This”), Engage students and parents in discussions about intellectual freedom, ALA Library Bill of Rights,Challenge Resources from the American Library Association
Why Did I Pick This: I picked this movie because it facilitates discussion about several tough topics that are relevant to teens. It is also an award winning movie that’s based on an award-winning book so it seems like an obvious choice for teenagers.
Halfon, L., Smith, R., & Malkovich, J. (Producers),Chobsky, S. (Director). (2012). Perks of Being a Wallflower [Motion Picture]. USA: Summit Entertainment.