The Perks of Being a Wallflower (film)
|The Perks of Being a Wallflower|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Stephen Chbosky|
|Screenplay by||Stephen Chbosky|
|Based on||The Perks of Being a Wallflower|
by Stephen Chbosky
|Music by||Michael Brook|
|Edited by||Mary Jo Markey|
|Distributed by||Summit Entertainment|
|Box office||$33.4 million|
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a 2012 American coming-of-age drama film written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, based on Chbosky’s 1999 novel of the same name. Logan Lerman stars as a teenager named Charlie who writes to an unnamed friend, and these epistles chronicle his trials, tribulations, and triumphs as he goes through his first year of high school. The film depicts his depression and anxiety as he goes through his journey in high school making new friends. The film's ensemble cast also features Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Mae Whitman, Kate Walsh, Dylan McDermott, Nina Dobrev, Johnny Simmons, Erin Wilhelmi, Melanie Lynskey, Paul Rudd and Joan Cusack.
Chbosky had always intended to adapt the novel to film but took his time after waiting for the right time. He was hesitant to sell the rights to the film to anyone, but eventually sold them to Mr. Mudd Productions as long they let him write and direct the film. Filming began in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on May 2011 and lasted approximately fifty days. This is one of the three films from John Malkovich, Lianne Halfon and Russell Smith's Mr. Mudd Productions that feature struggling teenagers; the other two are Ghost World and Juno.
The film premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2012, followed by the United States' theatrical release on September 21, 2012, by Summit Entertainment. It received positive critical response and commercial success, earning $33.4 million to a budget of $13 million. It received several accolades, including the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature, two Critics' Choice Movie Awards nominations, including Best Adapted Screenplay for Chbosky, and the 2013 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film – Wide Release.
Set in 1992, a young high school student, Charlie (Logan Lerman) who has been suffering from clinical depression setbacks since childhood has recently been discharged from a mental health care institution. Charlie is uneasy about beginning his freshman year of high school; he is shy and finds difficulty in making friends, but he connects with his English teacher, Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd).
Charlie meets two seniors, Sam (Emma Watson) and her stepbrother Patrick (Ezra Miller) at a football game and they invite him to a party. Charlie unknowingly eats a weed brownie, gets high and discloses to Sam that the year before, his best friend committed suicide. He also walks in on Patrick and Brad (Johnny Simmons) the high school quarterback, kissing. Patrick tells Charlie that Brad doesn't want anyone to know he's gay, so Charlie agrees to keep it a secret. Sam realizes that Charlie has no other friends, so she and Patrick make a special effort to bring Charlie into their group. On their way home the three hear an unknown song on the radio, Sam instructs Patrick to drive through a tunnel, so she can stand up in the back of the pickup while the music blasts.
Sam needs to improve her SAT scores to have a better chance of being accepted to Pennsylvania State University, so Charlie offers to tutor her which improves her SAT score. At Christmas, Sam gives Charlie a vintage typewriter to thank him for his help. The two discuss relationships, and Charlie reveals he has never been kissed. Sam, though already involved with someone else, tells Charlie she wants his first kiss to be from someone who loves him, and kisses him.
At a regular Rocky Horror Picture Show performance, Charlie is asked to fill in for Sam's boyfriend Craig, who is not there. Their friend Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman) is impressed and asks Charlie to the Sadie Hawkins dance. The two enter into an unsatisfactory relationship. Finally, at a party, when Charlie is dared to kiss the prettiest girl in the room, he chooses Sam, upsetting both her and Mary Elizabeth. Patrick recommends Charlie stay away from the group for a while, and the isolation causes him to sink back into depression. He experiences flashbacks of his Aunt Helen (Melanie Lynskey) who died in a car accident when he was seven years old.
Brad shows up to school with bruises on his face after having been caught by his father having sex with Patrick. Brad claims that he was jumped and beaten up, and distances himself from Patrick, calling him a "faggot". After Patrick punches him, Brad's friends begin beating Patrick, but Charlie forcefully intervenes, then blacks out. When he recovers he finds that he has bruised knuckles and Brad's friends are on the floor, incapacitated. Sam and Patrick express their gratitude to Charlie, and the three become friends again.
Patrick tries to cope with what happened with Brad, and at one point kisses Charlie, but immediately apologizes afterwards. Charlie keeps getting worse after the blackout. Sam is accepted into Penn State, and breaks up with Craig on prom night after learning he has been cheating on her. The night before she departs, she brings Charlie to her room. They confide in each other and kiss, but when Sam touches Charlie's thigh, he experiences a momentary flashback of his Aunt Helen, which he passes off as nothing, and they continue to kiss. After she leaves for college, though, his emotional state deteriorates and his flashbacks worsen. He calls his sister blaming himself for Helen's death, and admits he may have wanted it to happen. His sister realizes he is in trouble and calls the police. Charlie passes out as they burst through the door and comes to in a hospital, where psychiatrist Dr. Burton (Joan Cusack) manages to bring out Charlie's repressed memories which reveals that his aunt sexually abused him.
The night Charlie is released from the hospital he is visited by Sam and Patrick. Sam explains what college life is like, and that she has found "The Tunnel Song" - "Heroes" by David Bowie. The three revisit the tunnel, where Charlie kisses Sam again, and he stands up in the back of the truck. Charlie acknowledges that he feels alive and in that moment - "We are infinite".
- Logan Lerman as Charlie Kelmeckis
- Emma Watson as Sam
- Ezra Miller as Patrick
- Mae Whitman as Mary Elizabeth
- Paul Rudd as Mr. Anderson, Charlie's English teacher
- Nina Dobrev as Candace Kelmeckis, Charlie's sister
- Johnny Simmons as Brad
- Erin Wilhelmi as Alice
- Adam Hagenbuch as Bob
- Kate Walsh as Mrs. Kelmeckis
- Dylan McDermott as Mr. Kelmeckis
- Melanie Lynskey as Aunt Helen
- Joan Cusack as Dr. Burton
- Zane Holtz as Chris Kelmeckis, Charlie's older brother
- Reece Thompson as Craig, Sam's college boyfriend
- Nicholas Braun as Ponytail Derek, Candace's boyfriend
- Landon Pigg as Peter
- Tom Savini as Mr. Callahan
- Julia Garner as Susan
Chbosky incorporated both fictional ideas and personal experiences to the novel. After five years with these elements in mind, he had the idea of writing the novel during a difficult period in his life. He was experiencing an unpleasant breakup of his own, which led him to ask, "Why good people let themselves get treated so badly?" The author tried to answer the question with the sentence "we accept the love we think we deserve". This quote references the struggle of finding self love, encompassing one's life and hope for the future, and not just romantic love.
The story began when Chbosky was in school, evolving from another book on which he was working. In that book he wrote the sentence, "I guess that's just one of the perks of being a wallflower", which led him to realize "that somewhere in that ... was the kid I was really trying to find." Chbosky began writing the novel in the summer of 1996 while he was in college, and within ten weeks he completed the story. He rewrote it into two more drafts, concluding the published version in the summer of 1998.
Charlie was loosely based on Chbosky himself. Like the novel itself, Chbosky included much of his own memories from the time he lived in Pittsburgh into the film. The other characters were manifestations of people Chbosky had known throughout his life; Chbosky focused on people's struggles and what they are passionate about, attempting to pin down the very nature of each of the characters. The characters of Sam and Patrick were an "amalgamate and celebration" of several people Chbosky has met; Sam was based on girls who confided in him, and Patrick was "all the kids I knew who were gay and finding their way to their own identity."
Shortly after the novel's release, Chbosky began to write a screenplay for it. Because of Chbosky's lack of inexperience in the film industry, he recalled a meeting he had with his agent saying, "My agent said we would average a call a week, whether it was from producers optioning it or a writer or director wanting to adapt. Even a German film company, I don’t know the name of the company, but they wanted to buy it and turn it into a German film, which I would love to have seen, in an alternate universe kind of way. Yeah, there were many offers, but I couldn’t let it go. I don’t know how to sell something this personal. And especially what the book meant to the fans—I couldn’t let it go to anyone else. I owed the fans a movie that was worthy of their love for the book." When he finally did sit down and started on penning the screenplay, he found it more difficult than the book. The novel took him just four months to write while the script took him a year.
Chbosky wouldn't sell the rights to the film unless the studio also let him adapt and direct the film. John Malkovich's production company—Mr. Mudd Productions— purchased the rights to the film and let Chbosky himself write the script and direct the film. In January 2011, Summit acquired distribution rights. The following month, Summit sought a buyer for the project at the European Film Market held simultaneously with the Berlin International Film Festival.
In May 2010, actors Logan Lerman and Emma Watson were reported as in talks for the project and confirmed the following year. In April 2011, Mae Whitman signed on as Mary Elizabeth and Nina Dobrev was cast as Candace. Paul Rudd was cast as Mr Anderson later that month. On May 9, 2011, Kate Walsh announced that she was cast in the film as Charlie's mother and had begun filming. On May 19, 2011, it was announced that Ezra Miller had joined the film.
The film was shot in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area from May 9 to June 29, 2011. Initial filming began in Pittsburgh's South Hills, including South Park, Upper St. Clair, and Peters Township High School.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show scenes were filmed at The Hollywood Theater in Dormont after Chbosky learned that the theater was re-opening; he had seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show there when younger.
|The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||August 1, 2012|
|Genre||Alternative rock, dream pop, new wave, jangle pop, pop rock, folk rock|
Atlantic Records released The Perks of Being a Wallflower soundtrack on August 1, 2012, a month before the film's release. The film's music was chosen by the film's director Stephen Chbosky and music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas, while the incidental music was scored by Michael Brook. The score album was released September 25, 2012.
Chbosky wrote in the album’s liner notes, “I’ve shared them with friends. And they have shared their favourites with me. Some of the songs are popular. Some of them are not known by a whole lot of people. But they are all great in their own way. And since these songs have meant a lot to me, I just wanted you to have them as a soundtrack for whatever you need them to be for your life.”
|Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|1.||"Could It Be Another Change?"||The Samples||3:27|
|2.||"Come On Eileen"||Dexys Midnight Runners||4:12|
|5.||"Evensong"||The Innocence Mission||3:40|
|8.||"Teen Age Riot"||Sonic Youth||6:57|
|10.||"Pearly - Dewdrops' Drops"||Cocteau Twins||4:10|
|11.||"Charlie's Last Letter"||Michael Brook||1:48|
|Chart (2012/2013)||Peak |
|US Billboard Top Soundtracks||7|
|US Billboard Top Rock Albums||40|
The film was scheduled to be released on September 14, 2012, but it was announced in August 2012 that it would be released a week later, on September 21, 2012, in selected cities. The film continued to expand on September 28, 2012, with a nationwide release on October 12, 2012. The UK premiere was on September 23 at the Cambridge Film Festival.
The film originally received an R rating for "teen drug and alcohol use, and some sexual references". The filmmakers appealed and the MPAA changed it to PG-13 for "mature thematic material, drug and alcohol use, sexual content including references, and a fight—all involving teens".
The Perks of Being a Wallflower received a limited release of four theaters in the United States on September 21, 2012, and grossed $228,359 on its limited opening weekend, averaging $57,089 per theater. The film earned $17,742,948 in North America and $15,641,179 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $33,384,127.
The film received mainly positive reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a "Certified Fresh" score of 86%, based on 160 reviews, with an average score of 7.44/10. The site's consensus states: "The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a heartfelt and sincere adaptation that's bolstered by strong lead performances." On Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average rating out of 100 based on reviews from critics, the film has a score of 67 based on 36 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three and a half stars out of four, writing in his review "All of my previous selves still survive somewhere inside of me, and my previous adolescent would have loved The Perks of Being a Wallflower".
The lead cast also received positive notices. Ian Buckwalter of The Atlantic said "The primary trio of actors delivers outstanding performances, starting with Watson, who sheds the memory of a decade playing Hermione in the Harry Potter series with an about-face as a flirtatious but insecure free spirit. Miller also plays against his most recent performance, which was as the tightly wound eponymous teenage psychopath in We Need to Talk About Kevin, to deliver a giddy, scene-stealing turn as Patrick. Lerman, best known from the Percy Jackson series, shines as Charlie, a role that demands he be immediately likeable while still holding onto some deep darkness that can't be fully revealed until the end."
John Anderson of Newsday also praised the cast saying "As Sam, the quasi-bad girl trying to reinvent herself before college, she (Emma Watson) brings honesty and a lack of cliche to a character who might have been a standard-issue student. But equally fine are her co-stars: Ezra Miller, who plays the gay character Patrick as something messy and unusual; Paul Rudd, as their English teacher, is refreshingly thoughtful. And Charlie is portrayed by Lerman as quietly observant, yearning and delicate in a way that will click with audiences regardless of age".
Allison M. Lyzenga of My Film Habit praised the film saying "This movie especially recognizes that even while high-school can be a battlefield of insecurity and bullying, you can find allies to help you through the struggle. It also shows that we all have a brighter future ahead if we let ourselves reach for it."
Some critics had a less positive response to the film, with the main criticism being that the portrayal of teenage issues is idealized and the casting uninspired. The Miami Herald critic Connie Ogle notes that "the suicide of Charlie’s best friend, which takes place before the film opens, seems glossed over too quickly" despite the event being Charlie's main character motivation in the film. Jack Wilson of The Age writes, "the script is transparently fake at almost every moment, congratulating the gang on their non-conformity while soft-pedalling any aspect of adolescent behaviour—drug use, sex, profanity—that might upset the American mainstream." Richard Corliss of Time criticized the casting of actors in their twenties to play teenagers, unlike the film Heathers where the cast were actually teenagers.
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