Victor S. K. P.’s review published on Letterboxd :
Charlie: My doctor said we can't choose where we come from but we can choose where we go from there. I know it's not all the answers but it was enough to start putting these pieces together.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a brilliant film that tackles the themes of individuality, and unity within our broken society and how one takes a toll on the other.
Humans individually are, generally speaking, weak. Whether it's "Charlie the Loner," the ecstatic Patrick & Samantha, or even the school's football star, Brad, the truth is that the lot of them are individually vulnerable, broken, and torn up.
All of them have their very own unique traits that should be relished and admired; instead, they are shunned by society.
Charlie is liked by so few because he's a nerd. He enjoys reading books and he is interested in class. He therefore doesn't fit into the society he not only desperately wants to be a part of, but the one that he's surrounded by.
Patrick puts up a confident front in front of everyone. He knows he doesn't fit into the society that surrounds him, into its rules and conventions, and he accepts that. He doesn't try to fit in -- no, he tries to be himself as much as he can, whilst comforting others. He's also gay -- a state of being that the world isn't fond of now, much less so during the 90s.
As for Samantha, she interests the guys around her because she can be their subordinate, their slave. Despite the ecstatic behaviour and strong personality she puts up, the falling out she had with her father has scarred her deeply for the remainder of her life. She seeks a substitute father figure in a boyfriend, and therefore does whatever is necessary to feel the illusive comfort of security, love, and repose. She desperately hopes to meet someone that will take care for, and love her, a man that might replace the missing father figure from her life. So she gets herself drunk, and fucked, dehumanising herself in the process.
Yet despite the characters' individualistic character traits, they're all encumbered with their own problems.
Charlie was abused by his aunt, who was abused before him. Patrick & Brad's have a secret romance that's hidden from theirs peers, and especially Brad's religious father. Samantha gets used by guys as a tool to quench their desires.
All these characters are broken, and abused not only by the toll life's taken on them, but especially because of their surrounding society that shies away from individual natures, relishing instead on identical, unoriginal robots. This process of lobotomisation destroys everyone: from the Freshman nerd, to the girl who gets all the guys, to the high school football star, to the undecided Buddhist / goth girl. Some try to play along (Brad), but they get destroyed in this monstrous, dehumanising machine that is the high school society they inhabit, as it does the few that rebel against the system, shunning them away. No one is safe from this machine of massive destruction that demolishes people individually, one by one, be it those act to it, or those who oppose it.
United we stand
Divided we fall.
And divided, alone, people cannot heal themselves.
Charlie takes pills every single day. He takes all kinds of medicine that don't aid him in any way; he needs help, yet today's therapy by psychologists / psychiatrists (I always get them confused), revolves around pills that only help further lobotomise and depress individuals.
The only way for a broken person like him to be fixed is by relying on the strength provided by a strong support system built from people you love. To be strong, one must be part of a unit of individuals, of a society -- of society.
And if you don't fix yourself, if life mistreats you, and society rejects you, you turn into a monster -- like Charlie's aunt. You become a major psychopath, you become "insane." It's not because of one's birth, or nature that someone goes off the rails, it's because a person is being butchered into a copy, of a copy, of a copy, of a copy, losing whatever individuality (s)he had in the process.
But if you do get yourself fixed, you acquire the key to enjoying and loving life. Once you're fixed up, you won't be counting days down like Charlie does whenever he's alone -- life'll be far too enjoyable. You become an individuals amongst other individuals that form a true unison -- and that's where the beauty of The Perks of Being a Wallflower lies: it shows you this so, so accurately.
This films shows today's broken society. You may think it's high school, and it's set in the 90s, but the truth is, The Perks of Being a Wallflower represents modern society as it is. People are still being mutilated into robots if they're part of the regime; reduced and discriminated if they're against it. Yet despite this depressing truth, you're left with hope that...
There is another world
There is a better world
Well, there must be
Well, there must be
- Asleep by The Smiths.
I wish you could swim
Like the dolphins
Like dolphins can swim
Will keep us together
We can beat them
For ever and ever
Oh we can be Heroes
Just for one day
I can remember
By the wall
And the guns
Shot above our heads
And we kissed
As though nothing could fall
And the shame
Was on the other side
Oh we can beat them
For ever and ever
Then we can be Heroes
Just for one day
- Heroes by David Bowie.
A better world is out there. Its creation requires only one thing: courage.
★★★★★: Cinema at its very best. A masterpiece, essentially.