An introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world.
Having not read the novel, I had no idea what to expect from this film. I was assuming it would be a regular coming-of-age story about teenagers, a weekday rental kind of movie. Honestly, I just wanted to see the movie because Emma Watson was in it, her first role since the Harry Potter series. What I didn’t assume was to find a movie with a consistent view and feel that channeled The Breakfast Club and Garden State to create an emotionally powerful story about life, love, and relationship.
The film centers on high school freshman Charlie [Logan Lerman]. Charlie is *gasp* a loner who spends most of his time sitting by himself reading. That is until he meets seniors Patrick and Sam [Ezra Miller and Watson] who Charlie befriends and joins their crowd of theater producing, drug using, partying friends. The film also features Dylan McDermott as Charlie’s father, Kate Walsh as Charlie’s mother, Johnny Simmons as a football star and Patrick’s love interest, and Paul Rudd as Charlie’s first high school friend and English teacher.
The movie finds success in the big three aspects: story and writing, acting, and direction. The story isn’t that unpredictable or a break of the mold; it is a coming-of-age high school movie, but it certainly isn’t a cookie cutter story. The “twist” or hidden aspects of it are effective in surprising and emotionally stirring the viewer, mostly due to the presentation of those ideas. The acting performances was really damn good from the main three actors. The lead Lerman has quite a career going already [he plays Percy Jackson in the film series of the same name], and I thought he fit the character so well. Emma Watson brought what I think we all knew she had in her to the screen, although her role wasn’t terribly huge or expressive, it was good. Ezra Miller was the one I enjoyed the most, playing the outgoing gay senior student with a really good range of happy and flamboyant to angry and sad. Although I haven’t seen the movie, he played Kevin in We Need to Talk about Kevin, a role/performance/film that surprised and stunned a lot of people.
The real strongpoint of the film, however, was the direction. The movie was adapted and directed by the author of the book himself, Stephen Chbosky, and self-adapted movies usually lack the full ability to express the author’s real vision, emotions, and ideas. Chbosky finds no problem bringing this to the screen. Everything about the film seemed to channel one vision; the camera work, the music, the lighting; the film had a great flow to it. One of the favorite parts of the films was the way that it seemed to be your average teen drama story, then would slap you back into this heartfelt, emotional tale. Also, the way that Charlie’s flashbacks were shown, not as literally flashing back in time, but in a way that lets the viewer see them exactly how and when Charlie does, allowed for a real connection to be made with the character, which made the apex of the film that much more intense, scary, and and powerful. The film also makes you laugh a good several times without resorting to cheap jokes but natural, real humor.
4/4 – Writer/director/author Stephen Chbosky gives us one of the clearest, consistent visions of a powerful coming-of-age story with wonderful performances and heavy, heartfelt drama.