For many MTV-Generationals, Steven Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower is requisite reading. It’s like Salinger for the un-snarky. Basic premise: “Charlie”, a shy and lonely teen, writes letters to an anonymous reader that detail various moments in his life. Charlie’s letters hit certain topics like introversion, friendship, and shyness right on the head––which is what made this book of particular interest to me.
It introduced many to The Smiths’ sob-fest that is “Asleep”, and made many a teenager crave mix-tapes, a gaggle of misfit friends, as well as that one cool older teacher who just seems to, y’know, like understand. So imagine my fear when they released the trailer for The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s directed by Chbosky, the book’s author, which inspires a certain amount of confidence; but, the coming-of-age genre (in American film, especially) is rather over-saturated. While the book deftly, eloquently, and simply touches upon the motherlode of issues (depression, sexual abuse, homosexuality, etc.), I can’t help but feel that the film will be a sanitized version of a book.
The trailer itself ticks off the “awkward adolescent movie” formula. Indie rock? Check. Potential for manic pixie dream girl? Check. Obligatory wild house party scene? Triple check. It’s bleary, wistful, and almost a little too constructed to ever measure up to the rawness of the novel. Do I feel pandered to? Less so than when I saw 500 Days of Summer, more so than when I watched Daydream Nation. While the trailer gives a decent-enough impression of the film (and again, I can’t really knock it, until I’ve seen it), it does nothing to inspire confidence in die-hard fans of the book.
The cast is an absolute teen dream, trust. Ezra Miller, whose turn as the psychotic Kevin in We Need to Talk About Kevin, was nothing short of terrifying, plays Patrick, one of Charlie’s friends. Emma Watson, fresh off of My Week with Marilyn and the Harry Potter series, plays Sam. The titular role goes to Logan Lerman, who you may remember from Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Add to this Nina Dobrev (yes, The Vampire Diaries’ Nina Dobrev), and you’ve got your teen bases covered. Rounding out the adult cast are the ever affable Paul Rudd, the consistently-on-point Melanie Lynskey, Kate Walsh, and Dylan McDermott.
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