Lost & Found

8.15.2012

By Shana Naomi Krochmal

Long before “It Gets Better,” there was 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower,' a young adult novel that became a touchstone for a generation. Can the movie follow suit?

Lerman, 20, says he and his generation of friends would respond like Charlie, too. “It’s not offensive -- not at all. And Charlie just cares about Patrick so much, it’s just instinctual for him to accept everyone for who they are.”

Not so sweet is a scene in which Brad calls Patrick a faggot in the middle of the lunchroom. “In these movies, so often the gay teen gets called a name and he feels bad and he walks away,” Chbosky says. “Being where I’m from -- and I’m speaking like a guy from Pittsburgh now -- I said, ‘In this story, I want Patrick to turn around and hit that guy so hard.’ ”

After that first punch, Miller and Simmons -- who plays Brad with a quiet agony, in stark contrast to Patrick’s audacious abandon -- grapple on the cafeteria floor in a brutal, intimate fight. There were no stand-ins and, in secret agreement, they used far more force than either the stunt coordinator or Chbosky had approved.

“Johnny and I would have it no other way,” Miller says. “We really did not want the fight to become something safe or something easy. We just recently admitted to each other that we both took somewhat serious injuries that day.”

“Brad is the one person who doesn’t escape from the boundaries that have been set by what people want of him,” Simmons says. “The tragedy of Brad is that he didn’t become who he really is; he lived up to his image. This movie was my small way of saying, ‘This is insane. This is ridiculous.’ ”

Miller says, “I really think that most violent confrontations are just dudes repeating cycles of abuse from their fathers or testing their own machismo. It’s more of a weird homoerotic animal ritual than anything else. If you look at two dudes who are about to fight, it just looks like they’re going to fuck.”

Tags: Movies
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