I have to admit that the sole reason why I watched The Perks of Being A Wallflower on the first place was Emma Watson. Like anyone who grew up loving Harry Potter, I have a soft spot for Hermione Granger and with the saga being done for good (sob), sometimes I go through withdrawal symptoms. The synopsis of the movie didn’t sound bad at all either, so I thought, why not. I watch a lot of movies anyway, so another one wouldn’t hurt.
‘Perks’ tells the story of Charlie (Logan Lerman), a teen sophomore with problems that wants to get a clean start in high school. Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson) befriend him, and so the story relates their journey through Charlie’s first year. It is an incredibly moving story, relatable to I think almost everyone who has ever felt troubled in their teenage years, even if we haven’t experienced what Charlie went through.
And one of the reasons why I am fascinated by ‘Perks’ is because of the way it uses music. The movie is full of song references, people talking about music, there’s a silly dance to ‘Come On Eileen’ , the group of friends perform in a ‘Rocky Horror’ cinema showing stravaganza, but none of these, although nice, are the reason why I’m writing this post. One of the most pivotal scenes in the movie is when the three friends are listening to a mix tape someone else made in the car and Heroes by David Bowie starts playing, and this happens:
It’s a pretty scene, but it would have ended as just that if the song wasn’t reprised at the end, after the viewer finds the true nature of everything that Charlie has gone through. Without wanting to give the plot all away, by the end of the film the viewer finally knows what truly happened to Charlie. It’s been a slow build up with random vague references here and there, and at about 15 minutes until the end of the movie we know, and it’s heartbreaking. Not only because the issue itself is pretty heavy, but because everything else also feels like it: throughout the movie he gets a girlfriend, falls out with his friends, gets in fights, sees his sister’s boyfriend slapping her, deals with his own troubles and feels very lonely. And just as everything seems to start going well, his friends have to leave to college and he comes crashing down. But he recovers, and by the end of the movie, we really see how he has managed to emerge from everything and finally achieve happiness.
There’s no time for the viewer to transition from sadness to happiness for the character as it all happens in very few minutes, and I think that’s the key to the emotional impact that the last scene is filled with. When Charlie delivers his last inner monologue and ‘Heroes’ starts playing again, it’s not just another pretty scene with a great song playing. Every word and every lyric become relevant, and it’s overwhelming. The song is the key reason why it feels triumphant when he finally overcomes, it just wouldn’t have worked otherwise. Then the movie ends, but the song keeps playing and we keep listening. We, as viewers, kind of feel like we overcame, too.
There’s truly nothing better in a movie than a perfectly timed song.