The Perks of Being a Wallflower

We accept the love we think we deserve…

Pic Source: Wikipedia

Stephen Chbosky’s beautiful novel (1999), The Perks of Being a Wallflower, can be summed up in this one line from the book – “We accept the love we think we deserve”. Told from the point of view of a freshman year student, Charlie, it is a coming-of-age story about friendship and love, insecurities and fear, exclusion and acceptance. Last year, the author managed to do something exceptional – he adapted (screenplay, direction) the acclaimed novel to a superior motion picture. Yes, in my opinion The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of those rare films that surpass the beauty of its much-loved source material. It is also the most ignored film of 2012 with none of the major film award shows acknowledging the film and the fine performances by the three lead actors. For me it is not only one of the best films of 2012 but also among my favourite films of all time.

Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a shy teenager who in his own words is both happy and sad. He is nervous about high-school and his only real friend committed suicide a year ago. He hates school till he meets two seniors, Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller), who become his best friends and much more. Sam is a free-spirited girl with excellent taste in music; she is smart, beautiful but not popular because of her excesses in the freshman year. Her step-brother, Patrick is flamboyant, witty and in love with a jock from the school football team. Sam and Patrick welcome Charlie to the island of misfit toys and for the first time Charlie feels like he belongs somewhere. They understand him and celebrate him for what he is – a wallflower that sees things, keeps quiet about them and understands.

Writer-director, Chbosky makes us a part of this intimate group of friends and we find ourselves driving with them through a tunnel, listening to mix tapes and feeling infinite; drinking and playing truth-and-dare; having a crush and falling in love; sharing their disappointments and consoling them when they suffer heartbreaks. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is sincere, heartfelt and very well acted. Emma Watson manages to break free from the image of Hermione (Harry Potter series) and delivers a mature performance… for me she is no longer a young witch from Hogwarts but Sam of “Slut and the Falcon” fame (watch the trailer below to know why, or better watch the film).  Logan Lerman is also the introvert Charlie now and not Percy Jackson (which isn’t a great franchise in my opinion anyway). But the show stealer is Ezra Miller who has the smartest lines and gets to showcase a wide range of emotions. He is one fine actor who is at equal ease with a likeable character like Patrick and a disturbing one like Kevin in 2011’s We Need to Talk About Kevin. The film has an interesting cast of supporting actors including Paul Rudd as Charlie’s English teacher, Joan Cusack as his psychiatrist, Mae Whitman and Johnny Simmons as other students.

The film has an interesting soundtrack; it’s actually a mix tape with songs by various artists and original score by Michael Brook. My favourite track is the catchy song that plays in the film’s trailer also; it’s called “It’s Time” by a band named Imagine Dragons. The cinematography is nice with Andrew Dunn maintaining an intimate feel along with the 90s look for the film. Congratulations to Mr. Rudd Productions (the guys who made Juno) and Summit Entertainment (distribution) for backing this gem of a film.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is now available on DVD in the US and for digital download on iTunes/amazon. I also recommend reading the book, which is simply unputdownable.

My Week With Marilyn

She’s Marilyn… She’s Michelle

My Week With Marilyn; Source: Wikipedia

Marilyn Monroe lives through her image… the iconic photographs, the stories around her enigmatic life and death, and of course, her films that released over half a century ago. She is more of a cinematic icon than a person in the minds of the viewers today… However, Simon Curtis’ (director) film ‘My Week with Marilyn’ brings Marilyn the star, Marilyn the manipulator, Marilyn the victim and Marilyn the insecure girl back to life again.  The real credit goes to the actress, who it seems was born to play this role – Michelle Williams.

The film is based on British writer and documentary filmmaker, Colin Clark’s account of his time spent with Marilyn on and off the sets of another film, The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) for which she shot in London with actor/filmmaker, Laurence Olivier. Clark worked with Olivier as the third assistant director and forged an unlikely friendship with the world’s biggest star, albeit for a week. His two books, ‘The Prince, The Showgirl and Me’ and ‘My Week with Marilyn’ were adapted beautifully for screen by Adrian Hodges.

In the new film, Laurence Olivier (played by Kenneth Branagh) admires Marilyn’s screen persona and tells his young colleague, Colin (Eddie Redmayne) that he finds himself dull when she’s on-screen with him. That statement holds true of Michelle Williams’ performance in My Week with Marilyn. When she is on screen, you see nobody else and she lives Marilyn Monroe; she flirts, she winks, she laughs and says wicked things… she also appears nervous, vulnerable and someone you’d like to help, despite knowing that she can’t be helped. That’s the situation, Colin finds himself in as he thinks he can protect Marilyn, but from whom, herself?

The film also stars Judi Dench as Sybil Thorndike; Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh; Emma Watson as Lucy, a wardrobe assistant; Zoë Wanamaker as Paula Strasberg, Marilyn’s acting coach; Dominic Cooper as Milton Greene, her business partner, amongst others. A stellar cast like this and you only remember Michelle after the film ends! Of course, the role she plays ensured she gets the most attention, but it was a big responsibility and the final outcome rested on her performance.

Williams has given some fine performances earlier also that earned her Oscar nominations (Supporting Actress for Brokeback Mountain and Leading Actress for Blue Valentine); but this time she shone like never before earning her third Academy Award nomination (Best Actress). Do watch My Week with Marilyn for her. It is a fine film with an interesting story, good cinematography, art direction, great supporting cast, etc, etc. But at the end it is Michelle as Marilyn who is the soul of the film.

– Shrey Khetarpal