A Wallflower’s Childhood Trauma


Most of the coming-of-age tales show much interest in covering the fancies of the teenagers and attempt feebly on exploring the sensibilities of those fragile periods of human life. And Hollywood is at its best doing much better at this genre than any other film industry.

“The Perks of being a Wallflower (2012)”, a film by Stephen Chbosky, is a light-hearted drama, which though comes with a comedy-drama tag, it really isn’t. It is a movie pepped up with enough comedy, songs and romantic moments without which any one’s teen age life couldn’t be defined. With all the requisite ingredients it makes an attempt to delve on the psychological realm on something bigger and something which is not often discussed on screen.

This movie is a film adaptation of the epistolary style novel by the same name penned by the director himself back in 1999. There by, this movie is something a rarity where the novelist gets to direct the movie version of his own novel.  The work tells us the story of Charlie, an introvert teenager, who is nervous about his first day of freshman year in Junior high. In the past he had many pranksters around but none as a friend.


Charlie (Logan Lerman) is innocent, good looking, intelligent young man who retires in seclusion clouded by his fear and shy. On his first day he meets Patrick (Ezra Miller) a frivolous senior, a person with torrential ardor. On his first day he is able to befriend none except his English teacher Mr.Anderson (Paul Rudd), who is the first to discover Charlie’s ability in creative writing.

Soon Charlie befriends Patrick and his step-sister Sam (Emma Watson) and they embrace him under their wings right away. Charlie ebbs out of his nutshell and socializes.  Yet he often runs cold while his mind is filled with memories of his Aunt Helen, who had died in an accident, on her way to get him his birthday gift.


The memory of his aunt haunts him every now and then. He finds solace with Patrick and Sam. All the characters that appear in the film have mixed shades and none of them are theatrically made up to appear either good or bad. It gives every character a true-to-life touch. Patrick is gay yet a good friend to lend his shoulders at moments of despair. Charlie has a thing for Sam and at a cheery moment alone in her room; Charlie gets his virgin kiss from her. She is particular to kiss him just to ensure that the first kiss he receives should be from someone who truly loves him, for he got hers from her dad’s boss while she was 11. This crucial moment reveals the often unspoken topic of child molestation. Every 3 in 5 child, of both genders, are subjected to sexual abuse, alarms a report.

This film on its first look though seems to be capturing the jaunty moments of teen world on its depth it deals with the turmoil that any teenager is forced to face all by them. The parents today are unaware of the real problems of their kids and simply end up often with piles of complaints. There a lot our family milieu has not facilitates to help the teenagers to share their problems freely with the members of the family. As these gates are shut they tend to seek their peers for reconciliation.

The film in the final act reveals the obnoxious truth behind the seclusion of Charlie that he was abused by his aunt during his childhood. We can relate this with the reality, where studies and surveys reveal that the molestations against children predominantly come from the close kith and kin that the parents believe to be protecting the child in fact.

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The film also portrays the resolve of a modern teenager to tackle the challenges and the cruelty that the world around thrusts on him and the way these teen souls counsel and help each other each other at demanding moments.

The sexual abuse against the children is the strong subtext that runs underneath the plot of the movie. The film beautifully portrays the insecure feeling that an abused introvert has and the indelible mark that it leaves in his life. The film is not preachy like many other coming-of-age films those attempting to dare beyond covering the fancies of that age.


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