The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Movie Review

Behold something great, something riveting, something enchanting, something mesmerizing, something heartfelt and something authentic.

That is The Perks of Being a Wallflower, my favorite movie of 2012 so far. Brought to you by the producers of Juno, the movie is set in the early 1990s in a town in Pennsylvania. Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a fifteen year old starting high school and dreading it. He meets Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson), two seniors, who open him up to the many things he’s missing out on life and lead him on a path of growth that will change him forever and help him deal with this tormented past, which is told in flashbacks.

The movie is based on the novel by Stephen Chbosky who actually wrote and directed the movie, which made the experience much tighter and the movie much more faithful to the original material than any other book adaptation I’ve seen. Chbosky may not be a filmmaking expert but he sure did a beautiful job in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. His take on his story gives depth to the book. It is one of the rare instances when what you read on paper is given life on screen – one that you want to see as it adds to what you’ve read. So if you haven’t read the book, I suggest you do so before watching the movie. It will only take you a few hours. And check out my review of the book here.

The movie is bolstered by the strong performances by its lead actors and actress. Lerman gets across Charlie’s insecurities and vulnerabilities in a way that seems effortless. Watson completely leaves behind any hints of Hermione (take notes Kristen Stewart) and exposes you to a whole different spectrum of her acting skills. Miller, as the guy struggling with his sexuality, is effervescent and joyful and haunting.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a movie about the joy of being accepted and the fear of loss, all in the mind of a fifteen year old trying to make sense of growing up. It is a sometimes grim and at other times funny look at the lives of these kids as they struggle with abuse, loneliness, social norms, homophobia and love, all in a high school setting spanning one scholastic year with all of its ups and downs.

It is a movie that isn’t unlike other movies you might have seen before but it’s just so much better. It doesn’t have the cliches you’d expect from a high school drama. But it definitely has all the components to make it relatable and sweet and, well, irresistible. The music in it is great too.

You can’t but feel elated as The Perks of Being a Wallflower enters its last scene. You can’t but have a smile on your face as you see the tunnel flash in front of you and as Charlie stands, your emotions too will stand.

And in that moment, I swear, you will be infinite.

9/10

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 – Review

It all ends. It all ended. And so did my heart.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2 also known as the movie that tore my heart and soul into oblivion. Never, ever have I been inside a movie theatre and brought this close to tears. The hell with it, I CRIED. And it happened so many times. If you thought goosebumps was the criteria for a good scene, then mix those goosebumps with emotional upheaval, coupled with your hands almost shaking and this is Deathly Hallows part 2 in its entirety.

Harry, Ron and Hermione are still on the pursuit to collect and destroy Voldemort’s horcruxes. They believe the next one is hidden away in Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault in Gringotts, the wizarding bank. But going into the bank is near impossible – unless you know a goblin who worked there, which they do. And so a deal is stricken. At Gringotts, they are discovered to be impostors. Hearts will race as they try to escape with the horcrux and as Harry soon finds out the next one is hidden inside Hogwarts and it’s something that belongs to another founder of the school.
And it is to Hogwarts that he goes. But Hogwarts has changed. Snape is the new headmaster. The Carrow brothers are forcing students to practice the cruciatus curse (torture) on first year students.
But there are many things that Harry doesn’t know, the ultimate secret being one that revolves around his every being. Things are never as it seems. People will show their true colors and they will come out as triumphant even after years and years of hatred.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 is such a beautiful movie that you cannot move your eye off the screen. Checking the time? Dream on, my friend. Dream on. The moment the movie starts, picking up exactly where Part 1 left off, you are mesmerized. It starts abruptly and takes you right into the story. And it doesn’t let you go. It grabs at you with all the force in the world and drags you everywhere the movie goes and you hopelessly go with it like a rag doll.

Dan Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have done the impossible here. They are possibly the only set of actors that you have seen grow up on the big screen and as the actors grew up on a personal level, they added their maturity to their characters. It’s very fascinating to watch them interact. And in Part 2, they bring out the big guns. Their acting is relentless, captivating and charming as it should be now that they have mastered the characters they’re playing. You cannot imagine other actors portraying Harry and Ron or another actress to portray Hermione. It simply doesn’t make sense. And this trio simply proves this beyond doubt.

Alan Rickman and Maggie Smith as Snape and Professor McGonagall respectively gave their all in this movie. You cannot help but be on the edge of your seat whenever any of these two actors are doing their thing. Rickman has a part of the movie entirely dedicated to his character’s personal story. It is also one of my favorite parts of the book. The Prince’s Tale is transferred so magnificently on screen that it WILL bring you to tears. Many times at that, in the space of about five minutes. If you don’t feel absolutely overwhelmed at one point in that sequent of memories, then you are not human. There, I said it.
Professor McGonagall takes a stand – several, actually – in Deathly Hallows as well. She stands up for Harry and when she does, the whole theatre will explode in applause. Maggie Smith fortifying Hogwarts and then cracking a joke to lighten up the mood… Just the way I like it. You cannot but share the pain in Smith’s eyes as she sees her beloved school crumbling around her, as she sees all the work that they’ve done go to waste… absolutely stunning.

So Hogwarts is now fortified. They have one hour before Voldemort’s powers attack. And what better actor to portray this generation’s most bad-ass villain than Ralph Fiennes. People, just give him the Oscar for best supporting actor already. There will be no one more worthy. Him or Alan Rickman.
Ralph Fiennes gives his character an extra dimension in this movie now that he has the room to spread his wings so to speak, seeing as he’s one of the movie’s main pillars. Lord Voldemort is all evil. But in this movie, another side of him shows up: anguish and misery. And yet, there’s this subtlety to the nuances of the portrayal that make up the overall result to be very epic, indeed.

Michael Gambon has one scene in the movie as Albus Dumbledore and to say that his part sticks to the book would be an understatement. They uttered my favorite line. I was on cloud nine. “Of course it’s happening inside your head… but why should it mean it’s not real?” It’s also my twitter bio! And this is truly the world that this movie and the books have created. It is imaginary but it feels so real that you just don’t care that it’s all in your head. Shattering the lines between reality and imaginary is not just for eccentric, high or mentally disturbed people. For two hours, this movie will get you to strut those boundaries as well.

Steve Kloves is the movie’s screenwriter. And what can one say about Steve Kloves and give him enough credit. He captured the movie’s essence perfectly. He presented J.K. Rowling’s work in such a brilliant way that even the slight deviations from the book (and they are very few) do not even matter anymore. He portrays the gravity of the situation to the letter: the deaths, the destruction, the revelations, the build-up…. His version of the story is so well done that it would be incredible not to see an Oscar nod (and a win!) for him in the Screenplay category. He added his touch while keeping Rowling’s magic. Some of the lines from the book are transferred to the movie as they are and for someone who has read the book over and over again, I was ecstatic to hear them on screen. “Look… at…me.” Enough said.

Director David Yates has helmed the last four Potter movies and while I had my doubts about him at first (Order of the Phoenix was not exactly great), he more than surpassed my wildest expectations in this. The pace he sets for the movie never dies down. It keeps on building up and up like a beautiful orchestral crescendo. He guides his actors and actresses with confidence. He’s working with a marvelous script based on a terrific book. And he has the green light to give it all out. What do you expect from a very talented director with those options? Something not less than magical.

And throughout the movie, you listen to this satisfyingly rich and haunting score by French composer Alexandre Desplat, who also composed the score for the first part. As the score opens with the epic “Lily’s Theme,” you are captivated by the music on top of the visuals. The score doesn’t let down as well. It fuses itself into the movie perfectly and grows as the characters advance with the plot. It incorporates elements from all previous Harry Potter scores, giving homage to all previous composers. And what better way to end this than to salute those who worked on the series before you?

On top of all that, the movie is such a nice sight to see that it’s ridiculous at times how perfect the cinematography, the make-up and all other technical aspects are. They are so well-done that they are simply the cherry on top of this marvelous cake. Summer blockbusters usually rely on these elements as their forte. Not with this movie. While any other movie would dream to have this quality on it, Deathly Hallows Part 2 has these coming with the territory of being the movie that it is.

Critics and fans alike are raving about this. I had posted earlier about the early reviews the movie was getting and they set my expectations so high that I was afraid the movie would not meet them. It not only met them, it shattered them and rendered them useless dust. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 is magical, magnificent, elegant, pure, heart-breaking, eye-popping, insanely brilliant, enchantingly captivating and sensationally grandiose. It is one of the best – if not THE best – cinematic experience you could hope for. It’s a perfect movie, if there ever was such a thing.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 provides you with a sense of catharsis as it ends. It lets your senses go. It lowers your inhibitions more than alcohol. You cannot help but see your hands automatically clap at some points in the movie. You shout in desperation without even controlling your voice and you root for your characters like they’re really in front of you. Tears flow down your face without any power of you to stop them. There isn’t any better way to end the epic series that was Harry Potter. If only it weren’t ending…

I was going to start putting a grade to movies that I review, based on requests. So let me attempt this now:

13/10

Early Reviews For Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

The Harry Potter series is concluded with the last installment in its movie adaptation set to be released in less than a week’s time and with it a great chapter in the lives of many comes to a conclusion. And if you haven’t done so already, check out 13 Reasons to Love Harry Potter.

For those of us who can’t handle any sort of wait when it comes to Harry Potter, we resort to reading movie reviews before we actually get to see the movie. So I’ve decided to make a spoiler-free compilation of what top critics have said about the new movie so far, soon after its premiere a few hours ago in London.

Reuters write that the final movie is a statistical anomaly in the Harry Potter series since it brings its A-game from start to finish. They say if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you will come out of the movie with a sense of catharsis and a slightly damp handkerchief. They wrote that the movie’s running time of about 130 minutes was too condensed to fit everything that it felt sort of rushed and that this was the only flaw in the movie. The actors and actresses brought their game on and screenwriter Steve Kloves wrote a screenplay that doesn’t dwell on explaining to newcomers as much as it delivers to veterans.

Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter’s review can be summarized by: “An outstanding capper to the most lucrative film franchise of all time.” He commended the series for giving viewers an astonishing, gripping and exhilarating ending. He spoke about Steve Kloves’ very well-done screenplay as well as the eye-popping visual effects that don’t even need 3D to grab you. The performances of all the actors are actresses was described to be top-notch, saying that the movies have always been spot on with the casting department, hiring the best of the best British actors and actresses. Even the trio Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson get to spread their wings in this one and shine.

Variety’s Justin Chang writes in his review that the end surges ahead with urgency, spell-binding spectacles and overwhelming emotions. At 131 minutes, this is the shortest movie of the series. Why the rush, he asks, since such an ending deserved a longer running time for more catharsis. He expects this installment to garner in more revenue than the series’ most lucrative first movie. He complemented director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves for their work in making this movie better than the first part, making for a more exciting cinematic experience. He says the movie builds up to a great moment which he thinks fails since it doesn’t really capture the magic in Rowling’s universe. But he says that everything is taken to an immaculate standard in the movie, making for a highly satisfying conclusion.

Peter Shaw from The Guardian writes that the Potter saga could have hardly ended on a better note. Saying that previous movies had begun to sag, this final piece brings back the magic to the Potter legend. He says it’s even superior to T.R.R. Tolkien’s The Return Of The King. The spectacle is grand, marvelous and dramatically satisfying, justifying the two-movie split. He says he was on the verge of tears in many moments of the movie to show the immense amount of emotions that this finale held. He said the movie reminded him of the thrill he had watching the first movie 10 years ago.

Grant Rollings from The Sun described the movie as too much to bear. In the good sense that is. When their preview ended, people were wailing in the theatre for the end of such an era. He says that our favorite boy wizard gets the send off he deserves and in glorious 3D to top off the magic. He describes the movie as epic, dizzying and thrilling, even before the movie reaches its long-awaited climax. He says the movie makes brought everything out for this final film but said Daniel Radcliffe could have brought his game up. He concludes his review with “a terrific movie and a great British success story.”

The Dailymail’s Baz Bamigboye found the final installment in the Harry Potter franchise to be more than satisfying. He found it to be thrilling. He watched the movie with child-like wonder, taken away by how much the actors and actresses (especially the trio) grew up over the course of the eight movies. He counted over 1132 names in the ending credit. He says they’re probably out of a job now. But “what a way to go.”

The Telegraph commended director David Yates on making the movie a terrifying spectacle where the central trio does not disappoint and nor do any of the other actors and actresses of the movie. They even believe that screenwriter Steve Kloves fine tunes some of what they described deficiencies of the final book, to grasp the epic feeling instilled in the movie. They say this is “monumental cinema awash with gorgeous tones, and carrying an ultimate message that will resonate with every viewer, young or old: there is darkness in all of us, but we can overcome it. This is not an end. How could it be?”

And since I’ve said over and over again that this movie is looking to be a serious Oscar contender, Emmanuel Levy shared my view in his review, in which he gave the movie a grade of A-. He wrote: the finale does justice to the whole series. And even though Academy Award members are known for their short memory, this movie should be in serious consideration for a multitude of academy awards such as best screenplay for Steve Kloves, best director for David Yates, best supporting actor for Ralph Fiennes in his chills-inducing performance of Lord Voldemort and best picture, as well as a nomination in every technical category.

I’ll be watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in an early Lebanese screening on July 13th and I will review it immediately afterwards. When will you catch this brilliance on screen? It will not disappoint you. After all, how many movies with a unanimous critical approval fail to match their hype? This will not happen with Harry Potter.

And for good measure, watch the trio along with J.K. Rowling saying goodbye to the series at the London Movie Premiere.