Book Adaptation Done Right

Anyone who knows me knows that I am very picky when books that I love are turned into movies, even when I pick up a book strictly because a movie is being made. Some of you might remember this post where I reviewed The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I bought the book for one reason – because I follow Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame) on Twitter and she couldn’t stop raving about this movie she was making. I had heard about the book but hadn’t read it, and since I wanted to see Emma in the movie, I bought the book. And I loved it. Which made me apprehensive about seeing the movie at all. Yes, I realize how silly that sounds.

The movie is out on DVD now and I was able to get it from Redbox. And I have to say – I was blown away by it.

perks moviewThis is a very faithful book-to-movie adaptation, and there are several good reasons for that. For starters, the book is only about 200 pages long. This isn’t a Harry Potter monster topping out around 700-800 pages, where you know full well that it will have to be slaughtered in order to fit into standard movie parameters. They still had to leave things out, of course, but not that much. Another reason why it’s so good? Stephen Chbosky wrote the screenplay AND DIRECTED THE MOVIE! The author of the book had enormous control over how the movie came out, and it came out brilliantly.

Moving on to the cast, starting with the star of the show, Logan Lerman. He plays Charlie, a high school freshman who is very troubled and starts writing letters to a pen pal he doesn’t know but has heard nice things about because he needs to express himself to someone. (Side note – since the book is made up of nothing but Charlie’s letters, I was worried that it wouldn’t translate well to screen. Pfft. I shouldn’t worry about those things. It worked perfectly). Logan captures Charlie’s innocence, his desperate desire to belong somewhere, and most importantly, his complete and total breakdown towards the end of the movie. It was heartbreaking to watch, especially since I knew it was coming. You can’t help but love Charlie and want to look out for him, and watching him come unglued, to the point where his sister sends the police over because she’s afraid he’s going to hurt himself, was both beautiful and tragic.

Next up, Ezra Miller who plays Patrick, a senior in high school who befriends Charlie and brings him into his circle of friends. Patrick is a tricky character, one who is very quirky with a sharp sense of humor, but who also has a dark side. I would think in some ways this would make him very difficult to play, but Ezra does it very nicely. I couldn’t wait to see what he would do with it, since I think Patrick was actually my favorite character from the book. And don’t miss his portrayal of Dr. Frank-N-Furter in Rocky Horror. It’s hilarious.

Finally, the reason I wanted to see the movie in the first place – Emma Watson. She plays Sam, Patrick’s stepsister and best friend, and Charlie’s mad crush. I had to say, I was really impressed with her in this movie. I’m so used to seeing her as Hermione Granger, but Sam is about as un-Hermione as you can get. She’s a little wild and crazy, but the sweetest thing is her relationship with Charlie. When Charlie slips in the fact that his best friend committed suicide, Sam immediately decides that her group of friends need to watch out for him. She loves him, gives him his first kiss, and supports him through all his troubles. Emma captures every aspect of this character perfectly, and Sam is a complicated person who has had a very difficult childhood. I was very impressed with her versatility. And her American accent, which she did very well.

There were so many scenes from the movie that were captured exactly from the book. The scene at the dance, where Charlie decides to join Patrick and Sam on the dance floor. The scene in the tunnel where Sam stands up in the back of the truck so she can feel like she’s flying. The mix tapes that Charlie makes for all his friends. I loved everything about this movie, but the best compliment I can give it is that it made me feel the same feelings I felt when I read the book. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, and it makes you sad when it’s over.

So go see it. You won’t be disappointed.

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