*** WARNING: IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK, THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW! ***
Yes, after reading and adoring the book, fangirling over the movie trailer, then completely missing seeing the film at the cinema, the DVD finally arrived last month and I watched it eagerly within the week. To say that I had high hopes would be an understatement. This was the kind of movie I wanted to watch 'properly' - I made lunch, opened popcorn, closed the curtains, shut the door and completely immersed myself in it for a couple of hours. And did it live up to expectations? A resounding and deeply emotional YES.
It was... perfect. I know it was perfect, because it made me feel everything the book made me feel, only with more consistent pacing. One minute I was smiling at Charlie's loveliness, or laughing at the incorrigible Patrick, and the next my heart was in my mouth or I was trying to see through a veil of tears. All the key moments hit the mark exactly as I wanted them to, and I'm getting a rather compulsive urge to go and reread the book even though I only read it a few months ago. I never usually reread that fast!
Aaand speaking of Ezra Miller... I had a lot riding on him, since he's one of the best young actors around AND Patrick is one of my favourite characters in the book. As usual, the praise being thrown in his direction is well deserved; he strikes the perfect note as Patrick - light-hearted, funny and expressive, but also with tangible inner strength, hidden depths and quiet passions. From his pithy introduction during shop class to his spontaneous kiss with Charlie (and the shame that follows), he totally nails it. It's just a shame that the 'Be! Aggressive!' line from the trailer was cut - it really made me laugh!
I thought Patrick's sexuality was played quite subtly; although he is obviously and quite flamboyantly gay (particularly when he's joking around with his friends at parties), the more serious scenes - for example, between Patrick and Brad - are sensitively handled, which I really appreciated. The scene in the cafeteria, one of the pivotal moments in the book and film, was absolutely pitch-perfect. It was very powerful and very realistic, and Charlie's unexpected defence of his friend and the shocked silence of the surrounding group was every bit as brutal and devastating as I'd hoped. Definitely a "YEAAAAAAAAH Charlie!" kind of moment.
Sam was actually NICER in the film than the book, I reckon, because you weren't just seeing her as the object of Charlie's affection, but from a perspective outside that. The viewer can better understand how and why Sam and Patrick 'adopt' Charlie, and there is the sweetest moment when they toast him at his first party and welcome him to the group. Happily, Emma Watson's American accent was much better than I'd rather guiltily feared it would be, although it took a while to adjust to it, being so used to hearing her well-spoken English accent all these years! It's definitely not as easy a transition as, say, Nicholas Hoult in Warm Bodies or Emily Blunt and Hugh Dancy in The Jane Austen Book Club.
I liked the fact that a lot of the cultural references were kept intact in the movie. Charlie's favourite books make an appearance - though a considerably smaller one than in the novel - and 'Asleep' by The Smiths is featured quite prominently on the soundtrack, as it should be. I was a bit worried that the scenes in the cinema where the group acts out The Rocky Horror Picture Show in front of the screen would be very short or skipped over, but actually they turned out to be some of my favourite parts of the whole movie: sexy, exuberant and downright infectious. You can tell that the cast really let themselves go and enjoyed it, and for me, the cheeky Charlie-Sam moment on the night he gets roped in to play Rocky was probably THE moment that Emma Watson definitively left Hermione behind at last.
Paul Rudd was a wonderful (and pretty hot!) Mr Anderson, and there were some nice bromantic moments between him and Charlie. That said, he doesn't get much screen time, so it isn't quite as clear how he helps boost Charlie's personal and academic confidence throughout the year. I was especially sad that the visit to his house, when he impresses upon Charlie that he's special because he doesn't think anyone else has ever told him, was left out of the movie. It was such a tear-jerking and lovely moment in the book!
And so, to the ending... oh, the ending. It is beautifully, bizarrely devastating, in that wonderful smiling-through-tears way that screams GREAT MOVIE. That amazing line - if you've read the book, you know the one I mean - is hit so perfectly, with David Bowie playing and the city lights filling the screen, that I kinda found myself whispering it along with Charlie, then spontaneously burst into tears. I mean, I sobbed.
Long story short? This film is officially one of the best movies I have ever seen in my life, and if you haven't already seen it at the cinema or bought the DVD, do yourself a favour and get onto it. It's uplifting and funny and heartbreaking and quirky and thrilling and exuberant, and if you don't reach the end credits with a smile on your face and a sigh on your lips, it might be time to confront the fact that you may not be human.