The Perks of Being a Wallflower

July 15, 2008

by Stephen Chbosky.

Here’s how the novel starts. If such a beginning can leave you indifferent, you’re very unlike me.

August 25, 1991
Dear friend,
I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have. Please don’t try to figure out who she is because then you might figure out who I am, and I really don’t want you to do that. I will call people by different names or generic names because I don’t want you to find me. I didn’t enclose a return address for the same reason. I mean nothing bad by this. Honest.
I just need to know that someone out there listens and understands and doesn’t try to sleep with people even if they could have. I need to know that these people exist.

Charlie is a high school freshman caught between the colliding forces of inner turmoil and outside influences. The novel tells the story of a year in his life, in the form of letters to an anonymous friend. While it was difficult, at times, to believe that such deep thoughts could have originated from a 15-year-old, that didn’t stop me from feeling and relating with the character.

One could say the novel is a testimony of the friction between two desires: to embrace life, and to run away from life. But it is discussing a lot more than that. Since I have not grown up in an American high school environment, I cannot think of this in terms of “realistic” or “non-realistic”, but it certainly opens a clear and honest window into the world of a teenager.

I find it very lucky, if not downright miraculous, that Charlie manages to find a mentor (Bill, his English teacher) and friends (Patrick and Sam), who are older than him. Bill tells him to participate and stop using thought to remove himself from life. V fubhyq yrnea fbzrguvat sebz gung…

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Requiem for a Dream

December 30, 2007

I decided I’ll watch the movie after seeing certain people obsessing over it. Out of everything that I’ve seen, this one is the most shocking. A movie about addiction, obsession and madness, it depicts the downward-spiraling lives of four characters symbolically connected to three seasons:

  • Summer (the dream; high hopes)
  • Fall (the downfall)
  • Winter (the requiem; hitting the bottom)

There is no Spring, no rebirth, no Phoenix of hope. But that is exactly the point of the movie; a happy ending would have ruined everything. I felt as if I were falling throughout the 102 minutes of it; and the end left me stranded; in shock. I will not watch anything else until this sinks in. Just like I don’t want to read anything “serious” for a while after this.

Aside from the flawless acting and the painfully powerful idea/message, this movie impresses with much more. The director uses unusual techniques for some of the tense moments, such as very short shots repeated over and over in only a few seconds, and lots of split screens. The soundtrack is, again, outstanding. The theme, Lux Aeterna (listen here), is a composition that will drag you back into the movie with surprising force. It is a reiteration of the plot in less than four minutes: starting slowly, reaching its first climax of hope and beatitude, falling, then rising again with a kind of desperate hope, then falling, quickly and definitely.

And finally, the web site is a work of art in itself. Before, you could say I hated flash; well, not anymore. But it makes sense only after you watch the movie.

Someday, I also want to read the novel the film is based on.