Some spoilers for both the movie and the book exist here. You have been warned.
So, going to preface this by admitting I’m 1) a massive fan of Ezra Miller, 2) not such a massive fan of Emma Watson (despite the fact she’s played two of my favorite characters of all time, I know, it’s weird), and 3) not overly attached to the book.
Good? Cool. So.
I kind of loved this movie, even if they very clearly left out some important aspects of the book, which I just reread in December. The main thing that made me love this movie more than I do many other book-to-film adaptations is the fact you’re basically seeing the movie as a third party, rather than having everything explained to you by Charlie. You get to see Charlie as Charlie, and not how he sees himself, and this made the movie almost like a completely different experience from the actual book. You also get to see some of the characters with less of a “Charlie lens” on them, though you still pretty clearly see them mostly as Charlie does, since it’s still his story.
There were quite a few changes, which is understandable since I’m pretty sure there isn’t an adaptation out there that doesn’t chance a single aspect (and if there is, please point me to it, because I want to see it), but I felt a little cheated at some points. No, I’m not talking about the continued kissing from Charlie and Patrick (honestly I’m a little surprised they even kept the first big kiss), but instead the parts where Charlie shows he’s more of a giver than a taker. Like how he shares the suicide note without really understanding the meaning, it shows more of who he is before he’s grown at the end of the book. Or how Sam and Patrick don’t even call him on his birthday, much to his disappointment.
I don’t know, they were small things, but I think they were kind of important to Charlie’s character. Maybe not good points for a movie, which is why they were removed, but still important.
One changed thing I actually thought was kind of funny was Patrick’s nickname, “Nothing.” Since he got it at the start of the movie, rather than showing up with it already intact, it makes a lot of the jokes funnier since Patrick hates the nickname in the movie. The end scene with “Nothing Hates U” written on his graduation cap was just the icing on the cake, and I loved that scene.
I also loved the bit they did with Charlie’s sister, where he called her and she immediately went into action to get the police to her house. They took away a lot of the scenes we had with her in the book, so I’m glad they put that in instead. It’s not as good, but it’s decent.
Really, because the movie seemed to have such a different pointed focus than the book–more on Sam and Charlie rather than Charlie and the world around him–and because of the way the film almost shows the story from an even more outside view than the book, it’s really hard for me to compare them beyond some of the things they changed that I would have wanted to see. The film isn’t as sad as the book sometimes got, and you see less struggle in other characters (like Charlie’s sister), but that was probably necessary so we wouldn’t be sitting and watching the movie forever.
I wouldn’t put this on my “I liked the movie better” list, as short as it is, but I also wouldn’t necessarily put it on my “the book was better” list, like many a movie adaptation I do. I liked both for their own reasons, and don’t really like one more than the other.
I did really, really enjoy the soundtrack though. Won’t lie there.
Thanks for reading!