There are a few moments in life that stay with you; a memory that encapsulates an emotion, a moment, a time in your life that is triggered with a song or a scent. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one such movie that takes you back to that moment in your life. The voice of Charlie becomes your voice, his loneliness plays at the chords of your heart that you hid in the deep of your soul.
To say I was enthralled by Logan Lerman’s portrayal of Charlie would be an understatement. The timidity under which he hid as he explored life mirrored mine as a young teen. His occasional moments of courage as he hesitantly introduced himself to class clown Patrick (Ezra Miller) and instantly fell in love with Sam (Emma Watson) had my 14-year-old self dancing before my eyes.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower centres on Charlie, a junior at High School who is an outsider and a loner. As the movie unfolds, we find out that he has flash backs, visions that make him sad; thoughts that get ‘bad’. On meeting Senior’s Ezra and Sam, Charlie finds a place he belongs; a place on the ‘Island of misfits’. His negative thoughts decrease and he is happy.
The ‘Island of Misfits’ is a land of exploration and discovery, a metaphor for the internal excelsior and despair that come as a teenager. Charlie’s eyes are opened to a world where being ‘him’ is acceptable. Individual’s characteristics are celebrated, weaknesses are nursed. Whether you are a loner, gay, a reformed hoar or a Buddhist, you belong here.
My upbringing was entirely different to Charlie’s, my experiences vastly different. Indeed, my belief system as a young teen would not have even allowed me to tolerate what I was watching. Yet I was able to see that Charlie and I were in fact the same person. We had the same longing, a thirst for something new, desperation to be accepted, a need to know who we were.
Charlie, Patrick and Sam found this as they experimented with relationships, sexuality, drugs, partying and self-harm. They found this by exploring the realm in which they belonged. I found this as I poured myself into lyrics and music, as I questioned my faith, as I tried and failed again to fit in, as I struggled and fought with my thoughts and actions to become who I wanted to be.
And even though Charlie and I are entirely different people, I was able to see that we really weren’t that different at all because we both felt lost in the world. Yet somehow in the chaos of growing up we eventually found ourselves. And in those moments that defined us, we felt infinite.
That is what The Perks of Being a Wallflower was to me, a piece of art celebrating that fact that I found out who I was. I found out that my spirit and my identity, in those moments, were infinite.