Book to Movie Comparison: The Perks of Being of Wallflower
Book: By Stephen Chbosky (1999)
Film: Director: Stephen Chbosky, Starring: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller (2012)
I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower about five years ago when I was a freshman in high school, just like the narrator Charlie. At the time, Perks was probably the most “mature” book I had ever read. It was the first book I read that blatantly dealt with issues such as sexuality, mental illness, and drug use among teenagers. It was also the first time I realized how censored the YA sections of bookstores are (When I bought the book, a Borders employee told me Perks wasn’t in the YA section because its “not for children”). In addition to all that, it just happens to be a totally kick-ass book.
Perks is Chbosky’s first and only novel. However, Chbosky has worked on several other films as a director and screenwriter. I mention this only because I want to make note that Chbosky has a strong passion for film and that he had planned to adapt the book to film for quite some time (since at least the mid-2000s). I think the author’s intense involvement with the writing and production of the film (Chbosky was not only director, but also screenwriter and producer) as well as the amount of time that was put into planning the movie was key for the success of this film. It makes me wish that all authors got to be this involved with the film productions of their novels. However, sadly not all authors are dually talented as film aficionados.
Let me also say that Logan Lerman was the perfect Charlie. I will fight anyone who disagrees with me. His portrayal captured not only Charlie’s shyness and vulnerability but also his confusion and anger (see the scene where Charlie has his final breakdown).
I know a lot of hardcore Perks fans had a hissy fit when Emma Watson was first cast as Sam. However, I think she did a pretty great job. A lot of people did think Miss Hermione Granger could pull off a character so “badass” as Sam. However, seeing the characters portayed on screen, made me realize that Charlie’s group of friends aren’t nearly as strange or quirky as I original thought of them. Sam may act tough sometimes, but in reality she’s pretty similar to the average American teenage girl. Watson’s American accent sounded a little awkward at times, but other than that I think she was also a perfect casting choice.
And don’t even get me started on Ezra Miller as Patrick: amazing.
There was nothing about this film that I didn’t like. Of course, there were a few things I maybe would have liked to have seen explored on screen a bit more (such as Charlie’s relationships with Candace, his parents, and Mr. Anderson), but I understand why these things were left out and the film didn’t feel incomplete without them.
In fact, there were a few parts of this movie that I liked better than the book. This is especially true about the last scene of the movie. A lot of my friends that I have reccomended this book to have complained to me about the book’s ending, saying that it was too sad and ambigious. The final scene of the movie truly captures Charlie’s evolution throughout the film and ends the film on a touching note that leaves the audience feeling hopeful rather than sad or confused.
Perks was definitely one of my favorite films of the year. Chbosky’s and the rest of the cast’s devotion and determination to get this film made and to make it with the best care possible definitely paid off. So far, this film has been pretty overlooked in terms of awards this season, which is unfortunate because I think that Lerman’s performance in particular should be noticed. I’m hoping for at least a “Best Adapted Screenplay” Oscar nomination though.
The Verdict: Book ≥ Film
Film Rating: 9.5/10
Book Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)