The Perks of Being a Wallflower Movie Poster

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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In Theaters: September 21, 2012

PG-13 | Drama, Romance | 1h 43m

The Perks of Being a Wallflower novel

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a novel written by American writer Stephen Chbosky. It centers on an awkward, shy narrator named Charlie, his eventual friendship with two high school seniors and a wide variety of adolescent issues and turmoil. Marking an unusual cinematic case, Chbosky both wrote and directed the adaptation of his work for the big screen. The independently-funded film stars Logan Lerman as the titular character, with Emma Watson and Ezra Miller as the two friends—a girl and her stepbrother.

The book—which is epistolarian in form; that is, it is written as a series of letters, diary entries, newspaper clippings, etc.—was third on the American Library Association's Top 10 list of 2009. It deals heavily with topical, contemporary subject matter, including homosexuality, suicide, drugs and sex. Using the epistolary form, Chbosky structures his novel as if it were a series of communications between Charlie and some anonymous, third-party receiver of his letters. Over the course of the novel, the unpopular, awkward protagonist gains cultural and societal experiences with the help of his newfound friends as they experiment with drugs, discover music and explore relationships.

Chbosky recalls the line, "I guess that's just one of the perks of being a wallflower", popping into his head and being immediately inspired by it. "[I] wrote that line," he says, "and stopped. And realized that somewhere in that [sentence] was the kid I was really trying to find." The book—his first—was published in 1999.

The novel also makes direct references to a wide variety of popular culture elements, including books, films and music: F. Scott Fitzgerald, J.D. Salinger, Ayn Rand, The Graduate, Harold and Maude, The Beatles and U2 are all examples of common references.

Chbosky was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to a CFO consultant, his father, and a tax preparer, his mother. Growing up, he was attracted to the works of both Salinger and Fitzgerald and, after graduating from high school, met and mentored under Stewart Stern, the screenwriter of the 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause. He attended the University of Southern California's screenwriting program, from which he graduated in 1992. His debut film, The Four Corners of Nowhere, which he wrote, directed and acted in—was accepted into the Sundance Film Festival in 1995. He has since written a few episodes of Brutally Honest, the cinematic adaptation of the musical Rent and served as co-creator, executive producer and writer on CBS' short-lived-but-cult-favorite television series Jericho. The Perks of Being a Wallflower marked his first feature since The Four Corners of Nowhere, and his sophomore effort as a filmmaker.