The screen adaptation of Stephen Chbosky’s acclaimed coming-of-age novel is thankfully as faithful to the book as it could possibly be, no doubt down to the fact that the author himself both wrote the screenplay and directed the feature. Logan Lerman portrays the gentle, troubled Charlie with both subtlety and complexity, fully doing justice to the character’s literary representation. Ezra Miller does well with the effervescent Patrick, although plays him slightly more camp and bitchy than the book would have him, to sometimes humorous effect, but I can’t help thinking it reduces the character somewhat.
Paul Rudd is well cast as Bill (Charlie’s teacher), but his part is unfortunately relegated to more of a scenic role, only really there as a device to introduce Charlie as a not-entirely-clueless, talented writer. The same goes for Charlie’s family, who take a backseat in the film. Charlie’s sister, Candace, played by Nina Dobrev, is not horribly miscast, but for me – lacks the brittle, mean, volatile nature that her character demonstrates at times throughout novel. The absence of development in both her character and Bill’s is somewhat detrimental to the film, as the most famed quote from the book is “We accept the love we think we deserve”. Bill’s delivery of this line and Candace’s verification of this sentiment, I believe, are of more significance to the plot than the film allows.
However, in all book-to-screen adaptations, there must be some collateral damage and the aforementioned criticisms fall justly under that umbrella. Personally speaking, the only real let-down was the casting of Emma Watson as Sam. Whilst beautiful, she is just too ‘English Rose’ to really embody the spunky, damaged love interest. At times she comes across as geeky and self-conscious, and the part of Sam really needs to be played with confidence and a brazen lack of concern for other people’s opinions.
The incorporation of an incredible soundtrack throughout really elevates the feature and creates an appropriate atmosphere depending on the moment, one minute; soaring and uplifting, then the next; heavy and melancholic. Overall, it is a beautiful and sensitive tribute to a wonderful novel and for those who have never read it – be prepared for an almighty, heart-wrenching twist that gives incredible weight to what seems to be a relatively straight-forward story of unrequited love and high-school angst.