The connection between The Perks of Being a Wallflower and teenagers

Tatum Brennan, Health Editor

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age movie that depicts mental health, friendships, and trauma realistically and authentically. All the components that make up this flawless movie include soundtrack, theme, characters, director work, lighting, and more. 

A fifteen-year-old boy who is just starting high school, Charlie, is what we call a “wallflower.” He hides in the shadows while watching everyone live life without him. This movie appears to look like any other teen movie with stereotypical tropes and bland characters, but the viewer is slowly introduced to the characters and their complex backstories. 

Charlie meets two new friends along his high-school journey, Sam and Patrick. They are step-siblings who take Charlie under their wing and introduce him to the world of high school. Despite being very different from him, Sam and Patrick somehow find a way to make him comfortable in his skin. Charlie is a very relatable character in many aspects, like how he wants and needs to be validated by others. He is not the only character that shares this dream. Mary-Elizabeth, Charlie’s girlfriend, is displayed as the stereotypical goth girl trope. After I watched the movie several times, Mary-Elizabeth became my favorite character. She forgives people easily and truly cares about people. I find her very relatable – many teenagers today don’t like to hold grudges.

Something that makes this film so unique is its effect on the viewers. It leaves you sitting back and thinking about life, its meaning, the people around you, and especially yourself. Stephan Chbosky, the author of the book, also directs the movie. This was an excellent choice – no one knows the characters better than the creator. Chbosky knew what would best suit the characters’ actions and visuals. 

The visual effects and the set were appropriate to the time and made the movie come to life. The film takes place in the 90s, so allowing the camera quality to be very grainy was a smart choice. Many scenes couldn’t encapsulate and portray the characters’ emotions properly without a blurring effect, like Charlie’s flashbacks to Aunt Helen and their history. 

Throughout the movie, it is heavily implied that Aunt Helen abused Charlie somehow. The viewer only figures this part of Charlie out after after his breakdown. The pacing makes sense. It doesn’t feel too slow or too fast. 

When discussing this film, only a few appreciate how excellent the soundtrack is. Some songs that deserve to be highlighted include “Heroes” by David Bowie and “Asleep” by The Smiths. Both pieces hold significance to the storyline. “Asleep” is known as Charlie’s favorite song and is repeatedly mentioned, and “Heroes” is the song that bonds Patrick, Sam, and Charlie together in a scene towards the end of the movie. 

I highly recommend this movie to anyone above the age of 12. The movie’s content can be challenging to understand if you aren’t of a certain maturity level. It takes a lot of thought to fully process the film and its meaning. There are also several scenes depicting underage drinking, suicide, and references to sexual assault. 

This movie is meant for the quiet kid you and others might not know very well. They might have a lot of built-up trauma due to home life issues, and that’s why they don’t speak out. That kid has so much to offer in a friendship, but no one gives them a chance. Everyone can somehow relate to Charlie, Sam, Patrick, Mary-Elizabeth, or Charlie’s sister Candace. There is something for everyone. 

The quote, “And in that moment, I swear we were infinite,” resonates so much with me. It represents joy and freedom flying away before your eyes. I want to bring the central theme of this movie back to high-school students. We all want a sense of belonging. No one wants to feel like a burden to themselves and others. The feeling of “infinity” means whatever you want it to mean. Chobosky intentionally did this for that reason – infinity goes on forever and ever. Friendships can also last forever and ever. With good friendships comes a good life.