The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a 2010 heartfelt coming of age movie that centers around a young freshman boy in high school named Charlie. Charlie is by definition a true wallflower; he deeply observes and analyzes situations and people quietly from the sidelines, blending into the background of social events. Introverted and awkward, Charlie has troubles making social connections and struggles with depressive episodes and “visions” about his Aunt Helen, which later becomes a dark remembrance of his past. Eventually he befriends step siblings Sam and Patrick, both charismatic seniors in high school with a love for old rock and roll and theater. He starts to understand that the pair of siblings have a harder life than he realizes, as Patrick struggles with his sexual identity while Sam is seemingly stuck in abusive relationships However, he gains more confidence and happiness with the two but as the high school year comes to a close, Charlie’s inner sadness and past come to full circle that unravels into a string of events.
The movie doesn’t follow the trope of a protagonist achieving his dreams or working in a team to solve a problem. Instead, the magnificent beauty of the film comes from the relatability of the deep struggles that teenagers face, and tells a small story of a group of people in a thoughtful and meaningful way. Granted, there are some scenes that aren’t totally accurate to real teenage life, with the college esque parties and staying out all night. However, there are scenes that are touching to watch as the main character’s are able to experience small moments of euphoria in their lives, even with their life around them falling apart. The movie touches upon the stress of getting into college and grades/standardized tests in high school which many teen movies don’t even mention.
The slow character development of Charlie, as well as his awkwardness leaves the audience initially frustrated and uncomfortable at his lack of confidence to do the things he wants to do, as well as his uncomfortableness in social situations. However, this frustration grows into an understanding of how high school and being a teenager is difficult and allows the viewer to remember how the problems and challenges in high school seemed like the entire world at the time.
In the movie Charlie delivers the line, “So this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be,” which relatably sums up the feeling most teenagers and possibly adults can feel in their life. As teenagers, you’re always trying to find yourself and what defines you as a person which causes a heavy feeling of stress and anxiety. The movie tells you that it’s okay to feel that way, and it’s okay if you’re lost and confused in high school or you don’t know what you want to do, that things will pass.
Personally, the movie would be ranked a 4 out of 5 because of it’s relatability and it’s well executed delivery of teenage life. It’s a movie that even after you finish it, it’s message and quotes stays in your head. With its conflict and struggles of the characters, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a true coming of age film.