After a week I am finally writing my review for The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The film is director/writer Stephen’s Chbosky’s adaptation of his 1999 novel. The cast is mostly made up of acting newcomers, barring those young women who have played Hermione Granger.
Logan Lerman plays the eponymous wallflower Charlie, a Pittsburgh native beginning his freshman year of high school. It’s clear from the get-go that the shy Charlie is trying his best to fit in while overcoming some ambiguous past trauma at the same time. He writes to a “friend” regularly in his journal, counting down the days until his graduation in four years. Eventually Charlie finds his way into the good graces of what his new friend Sam (Emma Watson) describes as “the island of misfit toys.” Sam, her stepbrother Patrick (Ezra Miller) and the rest of Charlie’s new friends are a group of “outsider” seniors. Charlie is exposed to a new world of music, partying and The Rocky Horror Picture Show that he has never experienced before. He tells his family that the “bad times” are behind him, but we regular movie-goers know that the bad times never stay away for good! So of course there is the inevitable second act comrade fallout. Near the end of the film Charlie has to deal with saying goodbye to his graduating friends as well as face a difficult truth about himself that he has been denying for a long time.
The majority of the film plays out like a typical “coming-of-age” film, with sexual awakenings, alcohol and the occasional LSD trip. What makes the film stand out is an Inception-like twist near the end that makes you re-evaluate the entire story in hindsight. 20-year-old Logan Lerman’s boyish face and lanky body lends itself well to the quiet protagonist, who prefers to watch from the wings instead of standing in the spotlight. I was worried that Ezra Miller’s performance might be a little too ostentatious, but thankfully (I think?) I was merely deceived by the trailers. Miller did a fine job of being a breakout character without breaking the whole film in the process, with a three-dimensional supporting character that wasn’t just “the sassy gay friend.” Being a former breakout character herself, Emma Watson fares well in the role that tugs on young Charlie’s heartstrings. Watson is charming as Sam and will undoubtedly continue to melt hearts onscreen for years to come. The Perks of Being a Wallflower isn’t the greatest film of the year, but it presents a story that definitely resonates with anyone who finally finds that group of friends that defines and changes who they are. Kind of cheesy, but so is the movie. So back off.
Final Grade: ★★★★ 4/5