It’s possible that there are normal people who have normal experiences in High School-but no one ever makes a movie about those losers. The heroes of The Perks of Being a Wallflower are gay/drug addled/nymphos with just a touch of manic depression and suicidal tendencies. Well, maybe that is the normal high school experience.
The main character is an angst riddled fellow with a dark secret in his past who starts the 9th grade with a countdown of how many days he has left until Graduation. He is transformed when he meets the usual gang of misunderstood outcasts and promptly falls in love with the alpha female of the group and befriends the gay alpha male. His new friends lead him to a world of sex, drugs, and rock& roll.
As is the usual case in this kind of film, we see very few adults and the ones we do see are there solely to support our hero-or as a comic foil for the rebellious leader of the pack of artistic rebels. The kids stay out all night, have sex with anything that moves, perform in the cast of the midnight showings of Rocky Horror, and have all the drugs and booze they might have a desire to consume. Oddly, there was not a lot of smoking-I guess you have to draw the line somewhere.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower was still an emotionally griping story. Weren’t we all self centered little pricks that thought about suicide when we were in high school? Of course, not all of us had breakdowns that landed us in the loony bin from time to time.
Music was an important part of the story, from The Smiths to David Bowie to Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon-they all help to set the mood of the depressing teen years. A couple of the characters were obsessed with Mix Tapes and there is some talk about how much better vinyl sounds, otherwise this is a story that could have happened anytime in the past thirty years or so.
The tale is depressing, despite the fact that we know our hero goes on to write a book and make a movie about those pivotal few months of his life. I don’t trust memoirs as much as I used to before the days of A Million Little Pieces and Running With Scissors-where the authors feel justified in tweaking the details to make the story a little better. But then, this isn’t really a memoir, it’s only semi-autobiographical.