Well into the new year, it is time for all of us to look back at 2012 and reminiscence on the days we have left behind. For me, I always take stock of the extreme highs and lows, the best and the worst of times (as Dickens would say), especially when it comes to artistic experiences: the greatest albums, films, books, etc. . . What will I leave behind, and what will I carry through into 2013, and far beyond that?
Admittedly, I spend a large amount of my time and money at the cinema. I see a lot of duds, some features that are so-so, and a handful of films that leave me smiling or crying for hours after I’ve left the theatre. I could tell you all about the terrible experiences I had this year at Cineplex, or I could focus on the positive, and so I shall. Perks of Being a Wallflower was one of those jewels that makes the twelve dollars I just handed over for a ninety minute experience seem like a pittance. It was my favourite film of the year, and maybe on my top ten list of all time.
The brilliant film adaptation of the coming-of-age novel by Stephen Chbosky (who also directed the film) has the perfect mix of ingredients to make it a recipe for enjoyment. First, it was full of talented actors. I was unfamiliar with the lead actor before this movie, but Logan Lerman fills the shoes of protagonist Charlie with a gentle and intelligent presence. In addition to his performance, his female counterpart Emma Watson (yes, most of us know her as Hermione Granger) portrays the troubled and beautiful Sam with finesse, showing us that she is more than just a brainy witch. Last, but not least, Ezra Miller plays Patrick, who is my favourite character. In 2011, he delivered a powerful performance as Kevin in the incredibly disturbing film adaptation of We Need to Talk About Kevin, so I was already well aware of his acting chops. Because of his spectacular range, he is one of the best things about this movie, since he has some of the most hilarious lines, but also endures some heart-wrenching experiences that had me reaching for the tissues.
Besides dynamic characters, like any great film, there is also an awesome soundtrack, and it is a retro filled goodie-bag. Notable mentions include The Smiths, David Bowie and the Cocteau Twins. Furthermore, it would be silly not to mention the hilarious dance sequence between Emma Watson and Ezra Miller at their lame school dance to Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ eighties classic ‘Come on Eileen’. Watson cries incredulously: “They’re actually playing good music?”
This was the John Hughes-esque movie that many of us had been waiting a long time for. Like the vintage classics that have been beloved way past their heyday, like The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, Perks of Being a Wallflower makes us laugh and cry, while we bop our head to the tremendous track listing that is relatable to all of us. This film packs a punch, inciting laughter at its smart-alec brand of wit, but it also tackles some serious topics, ranging from sexual and domestic abuse, depression, suicide, homophobia, drug use, and the list goes on. There are very few people who could not relate to the issues that these characters struggle through separately and together, which makes the viewer feel like they are not alone in their own worries. It is transcendent, endearing and a whole bunch of other gooey adjectives, but even if I stripped away all the positive hype, it could still stand on its own. This year, it is the cinematic experience that stands out from all the rest.