The awkward turtle

Celebrating the failings of a successful person

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‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ – an awkward turtle movie

On Saturday I had a hot date with my friend Becky. I persuaded her that we didn’t want to see the Anna Karenina movie because the thought of enduring a Tolstoy classic being ruined by Keira Knightley’s gasping-for-air thatpasses as acting, was unbearable. I had wanted to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I affectionately named the perky wallflower film, as it is in the long line of tradition of coming-of-age dramas that I am very fond of. The film is based on a book set in the early 90’s (hence the beautiful cinematography of low quality pixels and muted hues), and follows a highschool freshmen’s (Charlie) introduction into the real world, led by his colourful wallflower friends (Sam and Patrick). The high school divide – the cool kids, the losers – is reminiscent of iconic 80’s films like Pretty in Pink, and The Breakfast Club, and successfully made me grateful that I never experienced an American education system. Ezra Miller’s Patrick brings all the comic relief and flamboyance of Duckie, but with an added persona of confidence coupled with not overplaying the camp card. However it was really the protagonist Charlie, played by Logan Lerman, who I fell in love with. He executed social awkwardness to perfection; he wasn’t comical, he didn’t make it uncomfortable,  he played it with such sincerity that awkwardness was retained in its little awkward box where it belongs: a social limbo.
He was indeed the perfect wallflower.

It took a total of 10 minutes from the moment Emma Watson appeared on screen to realise that I was not watching the latest installment of Harry Potter. The parallels were glaring: the two guys and a girl dynamic, the one guy hopelessly pining after the girl, everything screamed Harry, Ron, and Hermione. The minor difference being that this time Harry was actually gay (Patrick), Ron was not ginger (Charlie), and Hermione was quite the slut (Sam). Charlie is a kid with a lot not right inside but the film does not fixate on him as being the subject of a mental disorder. Instead the pill popping is blurred out into the background as the real story is about human connections, being yourself (no matter what your experiences), and not feeling like everyone will turn you away.

“Do you ever feel like if you told someone everything in your head they’d think you were crazy?” (Charlie)
– How about all the time

The film’s tagline can be listed as “We accept the love we think we deserve”  as the theme of choosing partners who are unsuitable and unworthy of our love, is played out in variations through the primary and background characters. In the middle of all this we find Charlie; a witness to what seems a universal mistake, and one which oppresses him to the point of psychosis.

I was floating along easily with the film; laughing when the gags were delivered, cringing when someone got caught out, and sympathising when there was a profound moment. But I felt as though I’d been cheated out of a catharsis of emotion. I was waiting for a tragic moment that would make this story feature-length worthy and not mini-series. I was beginning to think the director had seriously missed out on a dramatic opportunity, when suddenly the dramatic crescendo stole upon me. That moment when all those emotions poked at through the first 60 or so minutes came to a crashing climax, where before I had just been teased to no completion. I don’t want to ruin the ending but this happened whilst watching Charlie ask the psychiatrist “How do I make it stop? All the suffering, everyone I love is suffering. How do I stop it?”. The tears began with a modest trickle down my face and soon enough my flood gates were burst wide open. I suddenly went from leaning on the arm-rest I was sharing with Becky, to trying to disguise my torrential tears practically sitting on the empty seat next to me. I was crying so hard that I shocked myself . At some point I heard my phone drop to the cinema floor but my wet hot tears had me frozen to my seat. An old chap a few seats away took pity on me and returned my phone but I was so choked up I could barely mutter a thank you in reply. I think Becky was secretly appalled by the excess of emotional display in public.

Some memorable one liners just to let you know this is not a completely wet movie, include “I met a tree but it was a dragon”; “$20? What do you want with $10?”; “Our relationship is so awful that sometimes I imagine one of us has cancer so that we don’t have to go on”.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is pretty perky, sad, funny, and surprisingly intense. And not forgetting, most certainly awkward. View it with an open mind and not too harsh criticism on the pretentious over-emphasis on musical taste.

The old Potter trio: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson

Left to right: Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, & Ezra Miller

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Directed by Stephen Chobsky



Why I should not approach guys…

In my last year of uni I had a crush on this guy I saw everyday for what seemed to be the longest period of my life spent in the library. I would see him in the mornings, afternoon, and even whilst pulling a late night . I had no idea who he was and he never associated with anybody remotely familiar. It seemed that not even the reliable Six degrees of separation theory was applicable here. The intrigue turned into one of our many library obsessions as I shared the victim amongst my friends. Anything to distract from the misery of our academic holes was a plus. I dubbed him Seth Rogen, not least because the poor guy was nameless, but also because he looked uncannily like the actor Seth Rogen. He was my guilty pleasure.

Sure enough our frequent breaks on the library sofas were spent having intellectual discussions over Sophocles’ stance on state versus divine authority in the Antigone, which were promptly interrupted by a Seth sighting. “Seth’s gone out for a smoke, shall we go?”, or “Seth Rogen’s walking up the stairs….Don’t look…He’s coming towards us…No! Don’t turn around…Yeah he’s looking over…Dammit I told you not to look!”. I saw him so often that although we were mere strangers, we became strangers that knew each other precisely because we so obviously were not acquainted. In short; he kept staring at me because I kept staring at him. Awkward.

Fast forward to the end of the year at our pre-graduation party at a club. Everyone made it out: all those people I saw but never knew in the library, all those people I knew but wished I never saw in the library. Seth Rogen. I didn’t think I would see him there, if I had I wouldn’t have been so brazen just hours earlier when I declared I would speak to him if I saw him. It was too late. I couldn’t unmake my promise even if I wanted to because within seconds of spotting Seth at the bar my best friend Nate practically pushed me through the crowd and positioned me right to the left of Seth. The air took on a new heat around me as I contemplated striking up a conversation with a guy I literally did not know. Of all the possible ways to start a conversation I started like this, “Oh sorry, I think I pushed in front of you”. He looked at me, uncomfortably I might add, and replied “No its okay, I’m with them anyway”, indicating to the guy and girl actaully being served. I was sweating, my hair frizzed and I just wanted to bolt but I wasn’t quite ready to admit defeat. I groped for some support and found Nate’s arm within good reach. I pinched her, I figured she deserved to share in the pain that was passing through me every time I opened my mouth to speak to Seth. Then I said something really incredible. Incredibly because for 0.1 second I thought it was witty, than I was prepared to settle with funny, but as my lips breathed the words to life I realised it was just god damn ridiculous: “Oh well” I began, “You know it’s a dog-eat-dog world when it comes to the bar”. Inside I died. And as if that wasn’t humiliating enough, Seth singalled he had missedthe punch line. I had a second chance to pretend I never said the lame dog-eat-dog line and say something actually witty this time around, but alas I flopped again. Perhaps the line was so excruciatingly cringe-worthy that he had actually heard it and wanted to give me the benefit of the doubt. Who cares. I surrendered to my failure and delivered the same line again looking on to see the realisation of what I had said settle onto his face. He managed a terse laugh “Uh hah hah…”, and then walked away. Luckily I was already at the bar and it was a no-brainer what I needed then and there. Shot please!

The only thing that made this episode bearable was sharing it. I was the source of much laughing and gasping for air with a stray finger pointed in my direction. My sisters said I must have been adopted because this was no family trait. And I at least learnt that feminism can prevail onwards, women can grow penises for all I care but I will not be hitting on a guy again. Let chivalry work its charm.

Katherine Heigl & Seth Rogen in ‘Knocked Up’. It might be the Jew-fro, or the huggable body, but there is something about the Rogen