Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chobsky (2012)

There's never been a shortage of coming of age films.  It's a genre all to itself.

But "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" sets itself apart, not just because it's one of the best ever made, but because of its sincerity.

Charlie is a freshman in high school who doesn't have a friend to his name until he meets Patrick and Sam, a pair of outsider seniors.

Charlie inevitably develops feelings for Sam, but it's more than a high school crush.  Their relationship develops slowly and it's treated delicately, with the respect it deserves.  The two of them open up to each other over the course of the film with trust and in good faith.

Charlie, Patrick and Sam are all damaged goods, and that's why they fit together so well.  Traditionally, in films like this, the focus is on how much kids like this need to be accepted.  What makes "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" so special is these characters aren't just ready to receive love, they're capable of giving it as well.

The film works so well because while it focuses on teen angst, it demonstrates, without any cynicism, how it's not just a source of pain, but a force that drives these kids.

Mostly, it shows how the people who love you can make you brave.  Admittedly, that sounds cheesy as hell, but when you're watching this film, it feels like a lovely sentiment.

But I think what I love most about "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is the way it truly understands broken people.  If someone is sad, they genuinely don't have the capacity to feel better.  And "Perks" accepts people like that on their face without trying to change them.

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