"And all the books you've read have been read by other people. And all the songs you've loved have been heard by other people. And that girl that's pretty to you is pretty to other people, And you know that if you looked at these facts when you were happy, you would feel great because you are describing 'unity'".
-The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
Friday night The Boyfriend and I watched Chbosky's screen adaptation of his amazing book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I voiced my concern this summer about HOW they were actually going to turn this book into a movie. There's too much emotion I said; there are some things words capture but are impossible to recreate in a visual scene...and of course, how will the film stay true to the meat of the story without being some cheeseball Hollywood misinterpretation?
But because Chbosky wrote the screenplay and directed the film, I said OK. If anyone can make this into a movie, it's the author himself. He will be the truest to his work...and he was. It was the best book-to-film version of this particular story that could have been made, I think. It wasn't anywhere near as powerful as the book, BUT it was definitely well done as far as the execution of everything that had to be conveyed.
Something that really threw me was Chbosky's visual interpretation. How often have you read a book and then watched the movie, throwing up your hands afterwards like "UM HELLO that's not how I pictured it, thanks for scramblin' my brainpan!" It's really frustrating, this process of rearrangement in your mind to reconstruct some imagined world in someone else's terms. I came prepared for that, and as the lights dimmed and the film started rolling, I waited...and waited...
And waited. It never happened. Of course maybe small details were different because I'm not Stephen Chbosky and I didn't direct this movie and I wasn't there but WHAT?! HOW IN THE WORLD did he get inside my my head? Casting was spot on (another thing that gave me hope this summer), especially for Patrick's character. Ezra Miller was the Patrick I'd created in my mind, as completely outrageous and uninhibited as in Chbosky's book. Voice, mannerisms, speech, everything. Even Mary-Elizabeth and Alice were well-cast. The token misfit crew had as much chemistry onscreen as they did in the novel.
And the settings. Charlie's house, the theater where they perform Rocky Horror, the school (I mean a school is pretty much a school, you can't really screw that up), the parties, down to the damn kitchen where Sam makes Charlie a milkshake. It all felt so natural, like my brain being projected back at me.
The only thing that felt off, for me, was the hospital. The breakdown, the doctor; it all seemed very rushed at the end. I have to validate, though, that it's hard to make psychological breakdowns come across as powerful and emotionally jarring vs. cheesy "highschool dramatic". This part was probably what I was most curious about seeing, its execution. And for the film's budget, time constraint, (and again) complexity of how the novel was written vs. how the hell you adapt that for the screen, I think it accomplished it's goal. Maybe it wasn't as powerful for me because I already knew the story. But for first-time viewers of Chbosky's work, it could be a very different experience. The Boyfriend, who went in blind, weighed in that it's probably one of the better movies he's seen this year. Which surprised me because a) we both hate "highschool"-type movies (this, my rare exception) and b) I was already wrapped up in the story, the weight of the book, so I couldn't make an unbiased judgement of the film on its own...and I didn't think it was "his type" of movie. But then, I didn't think he'd like Moonrise Kingdom either, and I was sorely mistaken, haha.
Overall I really enjoyed it. I'm still completely in awe that they pulled it off, and in a way that still stays true to the story, and just lighthearted enough to keep the audience from leaving the theater like they would after an Aronofsky film (and by that I mean wrist-slitting. His work is fantastic but so dark). Completely impressed. Go. Watch. Feel infinite.
PS speaking of Aronofsky, Logan Lerman (Charlie) and Emma Watson (Sam) will ALSO be stinting in his production of Noah set to release early 2014. Crazytown, right?! (Not the casting, the "Aronofsky does a biblical story to screen adaptation" part...though we all know it's going to be terrifying/amazing).