Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The feeling we have as children, because we don't know any better, is that we have power over other people.  When I was in sixth grade, I hated my teacher and wished that she was dead.  Then she died.  I felt bad at first, then relieved.  Later, when I grew up and graduated from college, I realized that her double pneumonia had nothing to do with me, just her bad lungs in the drafty convent where she lived. In the meantime, though, I thought I might have been responsible.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower tells the story of a boy who thinks that he had power over an adult in his life and that as a result something bad happened.   But that is not really what the movie is about.  The boy named Charlie has a bit of baggage besides that, and has just started high school.  He is vulnerable.  He is alone.  Then he meets some older people who lead him to a better place.

Logan Lerman is very good as Charlie.  Paul Rudd looks great as the sympathetic teacher.  Why can't he play the responsible adult more often?  He is capable of subtlety and is so often used in throwaway buddy pictures.  Emma Watson speaks with not a trace of a British accent in this Pennsylvania based movie.  But the breakthrough part goes to Patrick played by Ezra Miller.  Homophobia is alive and well in this movie, and Patrick is a hero.

Besides the fact that I liked this movie because it reminded me of my guilty pleasure of killing my teacher, I liked this movie because my friend Peter Agliata did the camera work, and it is a well shot movie, especially the scenes in the tunnels, and the feeling we get of the Catholics in church -- all that guilt! There is also a scene where Charlie goes to the cafeteria and tries to sit down with an acquaintance of his who informs him that he can't sit with her. He is forced to get up and relocate to a different table like a leper. He is photographed awkwardly trying to balance his tray and his backpack, then sitting at a big table by himself. The camera moves away to show how isolated and alone he is. This is a classic sequence of high school life.

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