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On January 25th, Tustin-based bookstore Arvida Book Co. and its Movies ’n’ Books Club hosted a screening of Stephen Chbosky’s coming-of-age drama, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The film is based on Chbosky’s 1999 young adult novel, which has developed a cult following for close to two decades and is affectionately known as “Perks” by fans. I definitely consider myself a part of this cult following and was looking forward to attending this event. Well over 100 moviegoers attended the screening, and the theater was almost at max capacity.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a story about a high school freshman named Charlie (Logan Lerman), a shy teenager who writes letters to an unknown reader. He shares his struggles of trying to fit in at school and coping with his depression. Charlie also shares his experiences of making new friends with two seniors named Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller). The seniors take Charlie under their wing and show him that being a freshman can be fun. Charlie’s encouraging English teacher, Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd), helps him navigate his passion for writing by assigning him additional books and assignments.
For a short time, life is amazing for Charlie since he has an amazing support system and helps the seniors with the behind-the-scenes events of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the local theater. His friends inspire him to get out of his introverted shell by participating instead of simply observing like a wallflower. Charlie develops a crush on Sam, and things quickly take a nosedive when he expresses his affection for her despite having a girlfriend. He is forced to give Sam and his ex-girlfriend, Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman), space as his mental health declines over time.
Perks is incredibly hilarious, endearing, and emotional. The audience both chuckled and cried throughout the film. There were scenes where the audience applauded Charlie for his character development, and it was amazing to see the reactions moviegoers displayed during the event. It is a relatable story for the ages, especially for those who may have experienced similar teenage troubles as Charlie. But it is also a reminder that we must not forget the joy and friendships we have experienced in our lives.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of my favorite stories that I love to occasionally re-read and watch. I consider Chbosky’s novel a modern classic and a memorable written work. I was anticipating this event all month since it was only shown in select theaters during the time of its release, and I have never seen it on the big screen. This story really encouraged me to overcome the introverted struggles similar to the ones Charlie faces with getting out of his comfort zone. It also motivated me to attend a Rocky Horror with a shadowcast after seeing Charlie having fun watching and participating in one in the movie.
Before the Q&A, the Movies ’n’ Books Club raffled off a journal to a lucky attendee. I found the discussion engaging and heartfelt since the audience members shared their thoughts on the book as well as the movie. A few of the questions involved thoughts on the story, relationships, and the pros or cons of being a wallflower. I enjoyed hearing opinions on whether or not the audience preferred the movie or the book. It is interesting how other Perks fans shared that they saw themselves in the characters and even brought up parts of the book plot that I had long forgotten about.
If there is one thing that I have learned, it is that people can read the same book and watch the same movie but have their own interpretations. The beauty of film adaptations and books is that people have entirely different experiences with the narrative they have in their minds. It is good to be open to all perspectives.
If you were unable to attend this event, Movies ’n’ Books Club hosts monthly screenings, and they will be presenting the film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s metafictional novel, Atonement, on February 22nd!