I wrote a review for Perks of Being a Wallflower in which I gushed about it… because really, it is a very well written book.
And then I saw the movie… as one does when one likes the book and has a major crush on the actress in the movie adaptation.
(I had it easy, my copy of the book was released after the movie was in the works so everyone looked exactly they way I had pictured them.)
A wise woman once said that comparing books to movies is like comparing fresh apples to apple pie. They are both apple in taste, but one has gone through remarkable transformation and is something altogether different. And sometimes, despite you love for apple pie… you crave an apple pure. They are different things and should be treated as such.
Well ok then… you know I lied the book (and if you need a refresher, here’s my review.)
What about the movie?
The Movie on its own merits.
– Well done! The pacing is smooth, the drama is gripping, the character development is pristine!
– The acting was superb!
– The use of flashbacks was a bit awkward, but the lead up to the climax was very well shot and executed.
– Marvelous story, we really feel for Charlie and his desire to fit in and stay connected to his friends.
The Movie in terms of being an adaptation of the book
– Great use of music…. they kept the spirit of the times with the needed modernization .. ie, they didn’t bring it into today’s world but let it stay where it needed to be with the right amount of emphasis placed on the indie bands.
… but they made changes (how could they not?). I guess I am disappointed in the changes because they seemed to be unnecessary and to change, in small ways, the overall feel of the story.
– They took out almost all of the family stuff… and while that is understandable it is disappointing The scenes with Charlie’s father and the MASH episode, the story arc of his bonding with his sister.. these are elements that made the story more than just a coming of age story like so many others.
– A subtle change, but one worth noting: Early in the book Sam tells Charlie to not fall in love with her… and so he tries not to. This results in him not chasing her, not asking her out etc. Towards the end, Sam asks him why he never pursued her and he reminds her of what she told him… and this worked on a few different levels. It showed us how Charlie is so literal, it showed us that he was so determined to maintain that relationship that he never acted on feelings even when the situation had changed and it might have been okay to do so. In the movie, which lacked the early instruction from Sam, his inability to ask her out is painted as more of shortcoming, a social awkwardness, a failing on his part to “get” that she might have been interested in him rather than a intentional choice on his part to respect her wishes.
– Which leads us to another Sam and Charlie change.. in the movie he helps her with her studies which leads to her getting to go to college… and this dramatically changes how they relate to one another. He helps her academically and she helps him socially .. and while it isn’t done as a quid pro quo thing, the elements are there In the book, Sam likes him and includes him into her circle of friends for not other reason than she likes him and wants to include him.
– The sex. In the book, Charlie and Sam don’t have sex. In the movie it is strongly implied that they do. This is a huge difference as the lack of sex (but the sexual touching) in the book is the catalyst for Charlie’s breakdown and the book’s climax… where Charlie learns about his past. Changing that changes the breakdown to be one stemming from guilt or from seeing her drive away… not brought on by the sexual touching… and if it isn’t a PTSD moment of panic that leads Charlie to realize his own abuse but rather the loss of a friend and romantic interest that gets him to that dark place, well, that is a loss as well because it siply isn’t as powerful.
All in all the movie was well done and had I not read and loved the book as much as I did, I would probably have enjoyed it more.
However… I would advise the reading of the book and the skipping of the movie because in the end, the elements that made the book so well done are important enough to warrant the extra time of reading rather than watching. And, like I said before, the book is an incredibly quick read.
There you have it… read the book… (maybe while listening to the soundtrack from the movie). You won’t be sorry.