Last night, I went with friends to see the film adaptation of The Perks of Being A Wallflower. If you remember, Perks was my Banned Books Week Selection last year and one of my 2011 Bookish Bests, and I’ve been excited about the movie since I finished my re-read of the book last year.

I had high expectations for the film. I wanted to see Emma Watson outside her role of Hermione Granger. I wanted to see how a book of letters came alive on screen, and I wanted to see how the emotion translated. Well, as I tweeted last night, “I laughed. I cried. The film adaptation of The Perks of Being A Wallflower”was practically perfect. I loved it.”

And I did! Perhaps because author Stephen Chbosky adapted the book to the screenplay, and then directed the film. Perhaps because the casting was, in my opinion, spot on. Perhaps because the actors connected with the characters. I don’t know what the magical combination was, but it worked. At times heartbreaking and poignant, and at others laugh-out-loud funny, our whole theater enjoyed it. In fact, about half the theater sat completely through the closing credits, not ready for the experience to end yet. It just had that kind of spell to it.

Emma Watson nailed Sam. Her American English accent wasn’t perfect, but only on a few words. She definitely has skills beyond Hermione, and I’m excited to get to see her explore new and different roles. Logan Lerman was great as Charlie- really very much how I pictured the character when I read the book. Ezra Miller nearly steals the show as Patrick. Maybe because Patrick was the character I had the hardest time picturing when I read the book, but Ezra was just excellent here.  And while I feel strongly about the characters, I’m no film critic- I have no comment on lighting and direction style and anything like that. I judge movies similarly to how I review books: does it move me, speak to me, in some way cause me to identify with it? Does it entertain me?

For Perks the answer to all of these is a resounding YES. Perhaps because it brings back memories of finding my own “island of misfit toys” in high school, a group of slightly older kids who enveloped me into their group. They made me laugh, made me feel a part of something when I was feeling on the fringes of every other group- having friends in many areas, but not really belonging anywhere.  Perhaps it’s because that group of friends started my love affair with U2.  I don’t know. But I found myself  tearing up more than once last night.

Perks is a beautiful book, and now a beautiful film.