THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER. Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller are excellent

Once in a while, a film falls into our hands that doesn’t reach the heights of cinematography, yet manages to permanently etch itself in memory.

Lukasz Budnik

5 January 2024

Once in a while, a film falls into our hands that doesn’t reach the heights of cinematography, yet manages to permanently etch itself in memory. When viewed rationally, there’s nothing particularly special about it – just a simple story, much like many others. High school, a boy with issues, a group of eccentrics forming their enclave on the periphery of the cafeteria, and a girl who hypnotizes, unconsciously seduces, hiding problems, sadness, and loneliness beneath a facade of self-confidence and distance from the world. And then comes that magical moment – a brief, electrifying gaze decides that the main character leaning against the walls knows he’s head over heels. Something by The Beatles on red vinyl, Bowie’s Heroes in a dark tunnel illuminated by warm lamp light, a nighttime highway, wind in the hair, and a gentle kiss. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” transports us to such a world.

Stephen Chbosky is responsible for directing and writing the film. His name doesn’t open the box of cinematic associations because Chbosky hasn’t participated in many popular projects so far. While he was listed as a writer for the well-received “Jericho” and worked on the production of the noteworthy “Poughkeepsie Tapes” (a found footage film about a serial killer), it’s not much. However, his epistolary novel – “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” – caused a stir in the American publishing market and immediately gained cult status. The author himself carries out the transcription into the language of film.

It must be admitted that despite the lack of directorial experience, Chbosky does a great job. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” lacks the amateurishness often found in debut films, even by the greatest creators. The tale of school and life otherness, first love, and the search for balance in a world built on exceptionally fragile foundations is presented in an incredibly convincing way. There’s no moralistic tone that treats everything with grave seriousness. It’s not foolishly flashy, and cheerleaders’ pom-poms and footballers’ muscles in team jackets don’t spill out of the frames. Of course, in Charlie, we find a delicate play on high school stereotypes, but it is done with taste, intelligence, and a great deal of sensitivity.

Chbosky’s film is a pleasure to watch. In the visual layer, the rhythm is set by collisions of small rooms illuminated by warm lamp light, close-ups of faces heated by emotions, and crowded school corridors. It is a delight to listen to, as alongside Bowie and The Beatles on the soundtrack, we find, among others, The Smiths, Simon & Garfunkel, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, and Nat King Cole. Adding to this the vivid characters – not only well-written but also played in an excellent way (Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, and Ezra Miller form a trio within which you can truly feel genuine emotions), “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” simply cannot be considered time wasted.

As one of the greatest TV series in history, “The Wonder Years,” comes to an end, and the adult narrator summarizes his coming-of-age story, the words are spoken:

I remember a place, a town, a house like a lot of other houses, a yard like a lot of other yards, on a street like a lot of other streets. And the thing is, after all these years, I still look back, with wonder.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” perfectly fits into the admiration for times when many things still smelled of novelty, and the world was limited to a few streets and a handful of friendly people. It exudes immense nostalgia for the times of first kisses, hand touches, as well as small dramas and life decisions. Most importantly, this enchantment and sentiment are entirely genuine, making it as warmly received as the sight of a young girl, trembling hands flipping the Something Beatles single she just

Łukasz Budnik

Lukasz Budnik

He loves both silent cinema and contemporary blockbusters based on comic books. He looks forward to watching movie with his growing son.

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