Full disclosure: I HAVE NOT READ THIS BOOK! Do you know how disturbing this is for me? But my daughter really wanted to see this movie and a sliver of time opened before us on a Saturday night, so I cringed and went for it. It goes against all my rules.
My expectation going in? Fluffy, slightly angsty, high school drama. I figured I'd walk out having been mildly entertained. However, I do love Emma Watson. She is just so darned cute. And Ezra Miller is...intriguing. He played such a chilling, cold-blooded sociopath in "We Need to Talk About Kevin", he is hard to ignore. Dude can't help but stand out.
The result? I LOVED this movie. Probably even more than my daughter, which seems unlikely but true.
So, I suppose that the 97% of you that HAVE read the book will need no synopsis. But for the three of you that know nothing about the plot, let me fill you in.
Charlie is entering his freshman year of high school with some baggage. Yes, he is bookish and shy, but his best friend also recently committed suicide. And there are some older demons rattling around in his brain from his childhood. He is painfully but doggedly attempting to streamline himself into the real world, and belong.
Enter Patrick and Sam (Ezra Miller, Emma Watson)...step-siblings, seniors, worldly misfits. They sense Charlie's desperate need for a friend, and they see in him as a kindred spirit. They pull him into their pot brownie-eating, Rocky Horror Picture Show-performing, mix tape-loving band of misfits. They embrace Charlie for who he is deep inside, faults and all. They do not judge. And while the group appears to not have a care in the world, they are each suffering in different ways.
There were so many things that blew me away about this movie. It transcended the typical high school movie about fitting in and crushes and mean girls. These were not your cookie-cutter teenagers. One was a Buddhist, one compulsively stole jeans from the mall, one was battling a reputation of promiscuity, one was gay. Issues of drugs and alcohol, mental illness, sexual orientation, and sexual abuse were addressed, but it never seemed to get bogged down. Despite the very serious issues, most of the time I had a shit-eating grin on my face because I loved these kids.
The closest thing I could compare this to is a smarter, edgier, hipper The Breakfast Club.
The performances of Emma Watson and Ezra Miller were outstanding. They were irrepressible, visceral, and exhilarating to watch. They made a great movie unforgettable. There has been some rumbling about this movie with regards to the Oscars...probably long-shots, but the fact that it has been mentioned makes my heart happy. There is no doubt in my mind that I must read this book, and I must own this movie.
5 out of 5 stars