the perks of being a wallflower (PG-13)
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This is a 2012 movie based on a 1999 novel that I haven't read. I first saw the movie in 2015. As usual, I had a bit of trouble deciding how to categorize it. I was thinking maybe "coming of age," which would be somewhat apt, but ultimately decided "drama" would be even more appropriate. I suppose I could have filed it under "serio-comedy," but while there was some humor in it, I thought it was a lot heavier on the drama. I also thought maybe someday I'd start a category for movies about people with mental health issues, and move the review there... and I finally did just that. Meanwhile, I also need to say that this is the kind of movie that's hard for me to rate, because part of me loves them (and loves this one specifically, though I can't imagine rating it more than one heart)... and part of me... I can't say I hate such movies, but they can be really hard to watch, for at least a couple of reasons. And I say this as much as a trigger warning for anyone who hasn't seen it, as I do to explain my own complicated feelings about it. If you've suffered the kinds of things as characters in this movie (particularly the central character, Charlie), watching it could be a trigger for you. (There are some things he experienced that I never have, but still, I have my own reasons for relating to his emotional difficulties.) A secondary reason movies like this are always hard for me is that usually, no matter how bad things get for the characters (even if they get a lot worse than my life has ever been), there tends to be a positive outcome, in the end. Or even before the end... characters who have terrible things happen to them can also have things happen that I feel are better than anything that ever has happened or ever could happen to me. So, as happy as I may be for the characters, I also sort of resent their happiness. In short... this is the kind of movie that simultaneously makes me want to kill myself, and makes me want to overcome my natural tendency to contemplate such things, and feel hopeful about my own future.
Anyway... so there's this boy named Charlie, who narrates the film in letters he's writing to someone... who is apparently a hypothetical reader of the letters, not an actual person. Though it might be assumed that the "reader" is anyone who might benefit from knowing there's someone out there going through the same kinds of things they are. Whatever. It begins when he starts his freshman year of high school. Charlie... well, he has an older brother named Chris, who I guess is in college, and an older sister named Candace, who I think is a senior in high school. And they're both relatively popular, I guess, but Charlie himself is... well, a wallflower. And he had spent some time in a hospital, I guess, following the recent suicide of his best friend. He also suffered the traumatic death of his Aunt Helen, when he was just a little kid. (And there's more to that than I want to reveal, because it would be too much of a spoiler.) But anyway, he doesn't fit in at school, and as we all know, kids are cruel to anyone who doesn't fit in. But he soon meets an older boy named Patrick, as well as Patrick's stepsister, Sam (Emma Watson). The two of them induct him into their circle of friends (all of whom are seniors). The only other member of the group of any real importance to the story is Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman). Charlie immediately develops a crush on Sam, though she's dating someone else. And of course his feelings grow as they become closer friends. Charlie also gets a new favorite teacher, Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd), who lends him a lot of books and encourages him to become a writer. Anyway, Charlie begins to come out of his shell, somewhat, with his new friends. They bond over similar tastes in music, and generally being outsiders (each for their own reasons, and the movie focuses on some of their issues, not just Charlie's).
And I think that's all I really want to say about the plot. I don't want to actually spoil anything. But it's a pretty good story, though like I said, hard for me to watch. It's full of both pain and beauty. And good music, good friendships, a lot of awkwardness, and trauma, and fun (much of it the kind of fun that I find utterly unappealing to experience, but it can be fun to watch others have such fun, I guess). And also a lot of pain, did I mention pain? Anyway... yeah, that's all I can think to say.