The Perks of Being A Wallflower, the 1999 young adult cult classic by Stephen Chbosky, is that rare thing: a timeless high school book, and now also an excellent book-to-movie adaptation. Chbosky wrote and directed, which surely has something to do with the adaptation’s success, and the casting was superb. Logan Lerman is an utterly believable Charlie, Ezra Miller is a fabulous Patrick, and Emma Watson is an enchanting Sam (and she maintains a pretty good American accent throughout, with only one real slip-up that I noticed).
Some material (e.g. the Thanksgiving holiday; Charlie’s favor for his sister) was cut from the book, and there were a few other changes here and there, but the spirit of the movie was the same as in the book; even the new dialogue was true to the original, and of course many of the most emblematic and resonant lines from the book made it into the movie (“I feel infinite,” “We accept the love we think we deserve”). Needless to say, the soundtrack is also stellar; the Smiths’ “Asleep” appears early on.
What was most captivating and touching about Perks the book was Charlie’s voice. The book is structured as a series of letters to an anonymous recipient: “Dear friend, I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have…” (In this Chbosky interview on NPR, he almost reveals who Dear Friend is, but doesn’t.) The movie manages to capture Charlie’s voice; it reminded me how much I loved the book, while also being satisfying and enjoyable on its own.
Read my review of The Perks of Being A Wallflower (the book) on Goodreads. If you haven’t already read the book, I encourage you to do so. Then go see the movie.