Analyzing Trauma Narratives: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” Film Review


The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a 2012 film which was based on the 1999 novel written by Stephen Chbosky, who also wrote and directed the film. It is a coming-of-age movie that tells the story of Charlie Kelmeckis (Logan Lerman), a teenager in the 1990s. Charlie suffers from heavy trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from his childhood, and as the film progresses, we see him slowly overcoming it and getting better. We also see some affects of his PTSD, like mental breakdowns and his experience with sexual abuse in his childhood. This film covers many stressful and traumatic issues, like mental illnesses, homophobia, and sexual assault.

I find this movie very inspiring towards teenagers and especially those with mental health problems because they are, by some,  looked down on in 2022. It ranges from serious topics, to laughing matters, and even mixes in some chill scenes. It’s quite fast paced, as it’s only 1:43 in length. I believe it portrays depression, sexual assault, and other hard to talk about topics very well. It talks about Charlie’s aunt sexually abusing him, then him feeling like he should be blamed for her death. It talks about Sam’s sexual abuse too, with her father’s boss, and how Sam gets treated horribly by men. It discusses homophobia in both Patrick’s and Brad’s case. Brad’s friends and father force him to be closeted, and he gets punished for it. Patrick finally stands up for himself in the cafeteria scene, then Charlie backs him up and gets beaten up. (Sometimes this is the price one must pay.) This movie talks about depression and anxiety in Charlie’s life and how suicide has affected him, like his best friend who committed before high school, and how it makes it hard for him to even go to school. All of these scenes are examples of Chbosky tackling tough situations that are sometimes ignored in both life and cinema.

I adore this film’s cinematography. It doesn’t compare to other well-known films like Avatar which won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, and Titanic which won the Popular Academy Award for Best Cinematography, but it’s better than a lot of others, like some of the Final Destination movies in my opinion. The scene after the dance in the tunnel is beautiful. Sam is feeling freer than ever and Charlie finally lets go. “I feel infinite,” he says. Throughout the film, we can see and feel Charlie’s love growing for Sam, despite her relationships or past and I think it’s beautiful. He feels a deep connection with her because of what they went through as children. We can also see this in the truth or dare scene, when Charlie is dared to kiss the prettiest girl in the room. Charlie decides to kiss Sam, knowing she and him are dating other people. Sam and Charlie’s girlfriends storm out, and honestly, after this scene it’s hard to continue the movie out of secondhand embarrassment.

This movie is popularized even 10 years after release mainly because it is such a classic and gives that 90s vibe and nostalgia. But it’s also known because of Emma Watson’s role as Sam. Everyone can appreciate her beauty and acting. And honestly, Ezra Miller, who plays Patrick, has brought more attention to it due to the recent assault charges against him. He was just arrested for the second time in one month. Of course people would compare his role in the movie and his real-life actions. Another reason why this film is so popular is because it’s relatable to its target audience.

Overall, I loved this film and I’d rate it a 10/10. I believe that everyone should watch it, but more specifically older adults with closed opinions and views towards mental health and homosexuality. I think more movies like these will help others to understand teenagers more and how they aren’t “just being dramatic.” It’s a classic and it greatly portrays what it’s like being a teenager with mental health issues. It also has great queer representation and covers what it’s like to be peer pressured into staying closeted. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is available on various streaming providers, including Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, so give it a watch.