The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

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Released 10-Apr-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romance Audio Commentary-Director’s Audio Commentary
Audio Commentary-Cast Audio Commentary
Deleted Scenes-Deleted scenes and Dailies w/optional commentary (29:01)
Featurette-Best Summer Ever Featurette (4:48)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 98:26
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (35:13) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Stephen Chbosky
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Logan Lerman
Emma Watson
Ezra Miller
Dylan McDermott
Kate Walsh
Mae Whitman
Tom Savini
Nina Dobrev
Johnny Simmons
Brian Balzerini
Paul Rudd
Joan Cusack
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music Michael Brook


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes, But casual drug taking is more common
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     The Perks of a Wallflower is a coming-of-age comedy drama based on a novel of the same name. The film has become an independent critical success, whilst the book has developed a cult following since its release in 1999. In the filmmakers' own words, it is about a sensitive teenager who learns to navigate the soaring highs and perilous lows of adolescence. Starring Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief), Emma Watson (the Harry Potter franchise) and Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin, Another Happy Day), The Perks of Being a Wallflower captures the complexities of growing up with uncommon grace, humour and compassion.

     It’s 1991 and academically precocious, socially awkward Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a wallflower, always watching from the sidelines, until a pair of charismatic seniors take him under their wing. Beautiful, free-spirited Sam (Emma Watson) and her fearless stepbrother, Patrick (Ezra Miller), shepherd Charlie through new friendships, first love, burgeoning sexuality, bacchanalian parties, midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the quest for the perfect song. At the same time, his English teacher, Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd) introduces him to the world of literature, sparking his dreams of becoming a writer. But even as Charlie thrives in his new, more grown up world, the pain of his past — which includes his best friend Michael’s recent suicide and the accidental death of a beloved aunt — lurks just below the surface. As his older friends plan to leave home for college, Charlie’s precarious equilibrium begins to crumble, and at the root of his sadness is a shocking revelation.

     The Perks of Being a Wallflower was born from an inspirational line written by author Steve Chbosky while writing anything else but the famous novel released in 1999. Immediately upon writing the interesting line, he told himself that he need to 'flesh it out' one day. The book was critically well-received, as well as being banned in many American schools and appearing on the American Library Association's frequently challenged books list in 2006 and 2008 due to teenage sexuality and drug use. Chbosky had many offers to adapt the book into a film but he decided to write the movie version of the Broadway play, Rent and he co-created the television series, Jericho, first. In the meantime, after hearing that Chbosky was writing an adapted screenplay in 2005/6, The Perks of Being a Wallflower generated interest from the producing team Mr. Mudd Productions (Lianne Halfon, Russell Smith and John Malkovich), who were responsible for backing the big independent film hit of 2007, Juno. As quoted from the film's production notes available online here, the partners agreed that Chbosky was the only director they would consider for the project, even if that made putting together a deal a bit more difficult. “There was an understanding that when we had a screenplay that truly reflected the book, we would start shopping it around,” says Smith. “All the components had to be the best, because a first time director is always the biggest unknown, but we were all in agreement that Stephen needed to direct the movie. Since Stephen had written a beautiful book and a wonderful screenplay, we were confident that he could pull it off.” The team took a hands on approach to filmmaking, a decision much appreciated by the first time director. “I couldn’t have asked for better producers,” says Chbosky. “They were there every day on set and in post production. They always told me the truth. Their notes and suggestions were invaluable.” John Malkovich gave Chbosky one key piece of advice before shooting began. “John told me the reason he loved the script was that it had real heart. And because we had real heart, we didn’t need sentiment. He said, ‘Always get the tough take,’ and I never forgot that. I’m a softie. I want the romantic take, but more often than not, that simple note saved us from becoming too sentimental.”

     The novel was written in an epistolary form, addressed to an unnamed recipient. In the film, Chbosky explains that the recipient is 'you', the audience. At the same time, Chbosky doesn't shy away from the controversial topics in the book and film which has seen the book banned in American schools, topics such as homosexuality, teenage suicide, teenage pregnancy, drug-use and alcohol-use. The book was written to encourage parents and kids to discuss these issues and find a way out of them. This, perhaps more than any other reason, belies the universal appeal of the book and now the film. Again, in the filmmaker's own words, Chbosky calls the completed film an unconventional love story. “I wrote the line ‘we accept the love we think we deserve' in my first draft,” he says. “It became a central theme for the entire book, and then ultimately the movie. It’s not just about romantic love. It can be about friends. It can be about how you treat yourself. It’s about how to have a great life if you just let in more of the world.” In my opinion, this theme is what you will relate to, because the main characters in this film have all experienced abusive relationships and the film deals with how they learn to assert themselves whilst, at the same time, maintain their integrity which defines them. And to do this successfully in your teenage years requires a powerful support group, which the film characterises so well.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Are you watching this film for the first time and are wondering why it's so dark? Rest assured, your home theatre system is not at fault! Rather, cinematographer Andrew Dunn used a 'Rembrandt Lighting' effect to light faces with a dull light, and backlighting in scenes is minimised to emphasise shadow and contrast. It makes the film seem nostalgic and you get used to the overall haziness. It also makes The Perks of Being a Wallflower more intimate for audiences, succeeding in making us empathise and make emotional connections with characters who have been shot with soft light. There's a reference to this cinematographic effect in the film itself; when we see Charlie and Mary Elizabeth visit a theatre to view a foreign film, a poster is seen in the background of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), a film which introduced Western Cinema to German Expressionism and the bold use of contrast in lighting.

     The aspect ratio is 1:78:1, 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

     Despite the excellent average bitrate of 7.62 m/b per sec for the image transfer, the film contains low level noise in the background in many scenes, even though it was shot on Super35 mm film. This murky look to the film is intentional and you get used to it, it stands out only because modern films are shot to look as sharp as possible because of the advent of Blu-ray and high-definition televisions.

     The colour palette is muted and dull due to the soft lighting used, however some scenes contain bright colours, such as the school cafeteria scenes.

     There is one subtitle track available in English for the hearing impaired.

     The RSDL change occurs at 35:13. It's quite noticeable unfortunately, in the middle of a scene.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     In keeping with the nostalgic theme of the movie, the soundtrack for The Perks of being a Wallflower will bring back memories of the eighties and early nineties. Some songs will live long in your memory, such as Dexy Midnight Runners' Come On Eileen in the infamous school dance scene with Patrick and Sam and the use of David Bowie's Heroes (labelled 'the tunnel song' by Patrick, Sam and Charlie in the film because they didn't know it!) when Patrick, Sam and Charlie drive through the Fort Pitt Tunnel in Pittsburgh.

     The main audio track is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 448 kbps. The Dolby Digital Stereo and English Descriptive Audio tracks are both Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks encoded at 224 kbps as are both the audio commentary tracks.

     The dialogue is clear and synchronised

     The music soundtrack contains other nostalgic highlights from the 1980s such as Asleep by The Smiths, Low by Cracker, Temptation by New Order, Teen Age Riot by Sonic Youth and Don't Dream It's Over by Crowded House. The music employed in this film is reminiscent of the way that Richard Kelly used eighties music in Donnie Darko to create a similarly idiosyncratic film.

     Surround Channel Usage is maintained mainly in the front channels, due to dialogue and Charlie's narration. Richard Brook's score supports the emotional impact of some scenes really well, again mainly through the front speakers. We get to sample the soundtrack in full 5.1 glory when Heroes and Come On Eileen is featured, as well as Low and Asleep to a lesser extent.

     The Subwoofer doesn't feature much at all; it is used intermittently when the soundtrack uses all the channels available.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Stephen Chbosky

     This is an anecdotal rather than a technical commentary. Chbosky mentions his mentor Stewart Stern (Rebel With a Cause), portrayed as Mr. Anderson, Charlie's English teacher (played by Paul Rudd) and autobiographical features unique to his upbringing in Pittsburgh. It's an engaging discussion, full of insight into the novel and the film.

Audio Commentary with Stephen Chbosky, Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, Johnny Simmons, Emma Watson, Mae Whitman and Erin Wilhelm

     Whereas the director's commentary is factual and insightful, this ensemble commentary is more reflective and funny, there are quite a few references to 'favourite' scenes! Chbosky leads the cast in a conversational manner. The camaraderie between the cast is clear and unmistakable, just as it was in the acting in the film.

Deleted Scenes and Dailies with Optional Commentary by Writer/Director Stephen Chbosky (29:01)

     There are eleven deleted scenes included here and approximately seven minutes of dailies tacked on at the end. The dailies play without audio, so they are best viewed with the optional director's commentary. These scenes are sometimes alternative takes but some, such as the scene with Charlie's friend Michael, the abortion scene with Charlie's sister, Candace and the poem reading scene, could well have been included in the final cut. Chbosky provides some well-justified reasons for cutting these scenes; it was done mainly because of the differences between writing a novel and making a film. The deleted scenes also alternate between contrasting sharp and soft scenes, depending on the flashback used. The cast is highly praised in these sequences for their acting work. The dailies feature test shoots of the Fort Pitt Tunnel scenes with Sam (Emma Watson) standing on the back of the pick-up truck. These only make sense with Chbosky's commentary.

Best Summer Ever Featurette (4:48)

     This is a short 'making of' electronic press kit style featurette. It includes clips from the film, behind-the-scenes on set footage and interviews with Stephen Chbosky (author/writer/director), Emma Watson (Sam), Ezra Miller (Patrick), Logan Lerman (Charlie), Mae Whitman (Mary Elizabeth) and Erin Wilhelm (Alice).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   The Perks of Being a Wallflower has been released onto DVD in Region 1 in the United States and Region 2 in the United Kingdom. As far as I can tell, the only difference in these releases is the inclusion of a 2-minute trailer on the US release which can be accessed on the film's main website.

Summary

     When you consider the great soundtrack, nostalgic cinematography, independent production team guided by John Malkovich, camaraderie of the young actors and attention to detail to the plot by the author of the novel, the screenwriter and director of the film Stephen Chbosky, you have to admit there is a lot to like about The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This film has something for everybody, teenagers, 20 and 30-somethings and middle-aged and over alike will glean something to relate to from this film, whether it's growing up in the early nineties or dealing with teenage issues or finding your true inner self.

     I have to admit that this had a profound impact on me because of the time period of the film and the characters of Sam and Patrick, who reminded me of some of my own close friendships I enjoyed in my early twenties. You'll be able to connect with and enjoy the story without having read the source novel.

     In my opinion, the school dance scene with backing by the Dexy Midnight Runners' hit, Come On Eileen, is quite possibly the standout scene of all cinema worldwide in 2012. The release of this film onto DVD comes with great extras that will not disappoint.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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