As part of an ongoing effort to actively engage with film beyond its entertainment value, this area of my website will be dedicated to looking at aspects of film as they reflect in my faith. Spoilers abound. Hope you enjoy.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a book and movie by Stephen Chbosky, goes beyond the trio of Charlie, Sam and Patrick. It’s a story about growing up, falling in love, being hurt, and learning to be okay with who you are. I’d like to think those are universal struggles that we’ve all dealt with on some level.
But it’s also a story about belonging, about being a part of something where you are not tolerated but cared for, not accepted but embraced, not acknowledged, but endorsed.
It’s these elements of the film that elevated it’s enjoyment for me. There’s a scene, just after Charlie meets Sam and Patrick, and they end up at a party together. Charlie doesn’t know anyone and he’s walking around like any other person just trying to figure things out. He ends up eating one of the “special brownies” that are being passed around and, needless to say, releases his inhibitions. Later he is talking with Sam, who is making him a milkshake at his request (because what tastes better when you are on cloud 9 than a milkshake), and he confesses to her, somewhat matter-of-fact, that his best friend shot himself a year before.
Here’s where I connected. A few minutes later, we see Charlie enjoying his milkshake with two other party goers and we see Sam whisper to Patrick that she doesn’t think he has any friends. Patrick looks at her, then at Charlie and says: “Hey, everyone. Raise your glasses to Charlie.” Charlie responds, “What did I do,” to which Patrick says, “You didn’t do anything. We just want to toast to our new friend. You see things, and you understand.” Then Charlie, with this uncomfortable body language, squirms a bit. Patrick says, “What is it Charlie?” to which Charlie responds, “I didn’t think anyone noticed me.” Patrick, grinning says, “Well, we didn’t think there was anyone cool left to meet.”
I believe the desire to be noticed, valued and loved are not lost us as people. They aren’t mistakes. More than anything I believe they are indications that we are a broken people in need of something, someone to satisfy those desires.
David wrote in Psalm 139 that he is “fearfully and wonderfully made,” that from the very beginning of time, God’s eyes “saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Throughout this Psalm, David confesses how intimately God knows him, how grateful he is that he is known so fully. There’s this overwhelming sense of awe, wonder, and gratefulness that David has because of how God sees him.
As believers, the intimacy God has for us, knowing us so well, reminds me that we aren’t mistakes, that every bone, every wart, every blemish, success and failure are all part of this life that He has given me. I think, like Charlie, who desired just to be noticed, got more than that. Through Patrick and Sam, he was cared for, protected, and genuinely loved. Choosing to be followers of Jesus, we experience that same thing, with the One who created us.
If you want to hear more of my thoughts on the film from a cinematic standpoint, check out the Feelin Film episode HERE.