Knowing this, some of us (me) schedule get-aways and don't tell anyone much about them. It is obvious to people who know me this is no cruise. We are talking an airplane, at least one night in a good hotel, two movies. The movies are yet another way to get away, kick it up, inflate, punctuate. Make it different.
|The Perks of Being a Wallflower|
When you’re a therapist, going to psychological movies is tough-the deep dark secret behind odd behavior in a story is predictable, at least falls within top three considerations-- and we don't want to spend free evenings working out yet another life's sadness. Why work when you don't have to work, when you aren’t technically working?
Not everyone does. We just read today that Mindy McCready, a young country singer, killed herself not long after the father of her children killed himself. (She had been accused of killing her ex-lover in a jealous rage.) Mindy had been battling her demons (code for depression and/or addiction), but we hear about her decline and surrender to alcohol and prescription meds, and wonder what happened, how did someone who had so much become so marginalized.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is about a high school freshman. Charlie has already spent time in a hospital for depression, we assume, and is hoping to make a friend that first day in September. It is a hope against hope, although his English teacher (perfect as always, Paul Rudd) offers himself for the part and is accepted, with reluctance. We know that Charlie is in some sort of recovery, and that it isn’t a true social phobia, his wallflower-ishness, because he tries really hard to fit in, does things with others, and even has a pretty good time.
SERIOUS SPOILERS ABOUT TO BEGIN
And then! As I am considering walking away, eating, perhaps, things heat up.
There is a breakdown and a psychiatrist, and Joan Cusak makes her appearance in that role, the doctor who is tough, who won't let the patient slither away, return to his head, not without having to explain himself, and you wonder why she is bothering with it, this role, because it is short and not terribly inspiring role, even though she is good at the job and Charlie gets better.
And then you realize that this film is about what you expected it to be about, the trauma of child abuse, and that Joan likely has a vested interest in seeing that JQ Public learns more about childhood sexual abuse, bless her. That is why she takes the role.
And that is why there are no parents in this film, not until the end, not until the secret is out about the aunt and the parents find out about the aunt's role in Charlie's life. Then, only then, do we see these people, the parents, because they are supporting their son, his version of the story, and he becomes well because they believe him, as does everyone else. Which is the way it has to be, frankly.
Whether or not it is intentional, that Charlie's parents are mere shadows for three-quarters of a film, only the directors know. The film supposedly deviates quite a bit from the book, and if that is how, then it worked. At least for this therapist, who is back, by the way, ready, once again, to be surprised.