05 November 2012

Emotional Distress in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower"

It’s a very good movie. I was impressed particularly by how the two poles of emotional distress were handled in the film. I say impressed because these are the two sorts of people that I’ve encountered so seeing their struggles dramatized in the film was very encouraging. Patrick is the person who’s loud about their neuroses. This can be exhausting - especially when it becomes the person’s schtick - but Ezra Miller grounded it impeccably through the relationship with the athlete as the true side of himself that no-one wants to see. The school certainly doesn’t want to know that one of their own is gay like this misfit outsider Patrick. So he’s stuck in this limbo which he tries to minimize through his bright outer shell. There’s a lot of hurt inside of him and he’s trying not to let it consume him. Charlie, on the other hand, is constantly struggling with the attempt not to be consumed. Charlie is the person who’s quiet about their brokenness. I almost feel like this person has a more difficult path to recovery as it feels like there’s a form of shame to revealing this brokenness then having to share it - or burden them with it as the thinking goes here - with others. Almost as if being hurt and “abnormal” has to remain a secret; the more it remains a secret the more it feels like your own fault therefore more shame and more secrets. Logan Lerman is (brilliant if also) rather difficult to watch because he spends the entire film as a walking, open wound. He doesn’t lash out - well, until the end - or call attention to what’s wrong. The ways he speaks is off, the way he looks at something is glassy, and the way he becomes silent is suggestive. It’s scary, but also heartbreaking. However, as a balance, when given positive attention he becomes responsive and thriving. The awkwardness is still there, but the person is more dynamic. It’s a very good balance of the two parts of him. This rich, sympathetic handling of Patrick and Charlie is the best feature of the film. The whole film is good - the casting of the girls is excellent and they also become another rich element of the film - but now when there’s so much evidence of (male) teenage emotional disorder this movie works as an effective document for everyone wanting to see it from this vantage point. Ezra Miller and Logan Lerman both work very hard here to make the drama poignant and touching. It’s a difficult movie to experience if any of these feelings are part of you, but it’s encouraging that the love and respect for these characters is so intensely sympathetic and not cliched or needlessly depressing.

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