Matt’s Review: ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ is the Same Coming of Age Story With a Fresh PresentationBy
This film is a story we have all seen before — a seemingly odd boy struggles to fit into the high school crowd as a freshman and is befriended by the group of misfits that change his whole take on life and friendships. Logan Lerman plays Charlie, an outcast dealing with many steep emotional trials from his past while looking to blend into the school scene.
Emma Watson is brilliant as the genuine character Sam, a deeply insightful woman also dealing with a dark past. She sees a bit of herself in Charlie’s struggles and embraces him into her tight-nit group of Senior friends. ‘Co-leading’ the group is her half-brother, Patrick, who is ostracized in school by most because he is gay. The group calls themselves ‘the misfit toys’ having their own fun and shenanigans outside the normal teen crowd.
The film plays on the typical teen romance, underdog boy falls head over heels for seemingly unattainable girl. She dates the wrong guys like so many stupid gorgeous young women, but the film perfectly states, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” Charlie and Sam have a connection that neither have felt before, but several roadblocks exist, keeping them from fully realizing it.
The film is based on a novel by Stephen Chbosky. The man also wrote the screenplay and made his directorial debut with The Perks of Being a Wallflower. His inexperience behind the camera does not show one bit. Chbosky has a real sense for photographing human emotion and keying in on the moments that make an emotional piece like this flourish. He perfectly captures the high school setting so well it made me reminisce on my own time spent there. It made me reflect even, watching these teens immaturely bicker and fret over such trivial things. I could not believe I used to act like that. This film made me want to go back and slap the younger version of myself for trying to be with the ‘cool’ kids and worrying about my image. Good movies like this make you think, they don’t just simply entertain.
Despite the story playing on the same old teen angst, puppy love, gay best friend, and high school scene, it has fresh elements within that keep it from feeling like a retread. The story feels like actual events instead of another Hollywood overindulged teen flick. Logan Lerman absolutely kills his role as Charlie, a selfless character trying so hard to forget his past and move forward to a happy life. Lerman conveys so much about his character with non-verbals, like eye movement and body language. Many times while watching Charlie try to tread water as a freshman I thought, “Yep, been there before.”
The film also stars Paul Rudd in a minor role as Charlie’s mentor-like AP English teacher Mr. Anderson. He challenges Charlie to pursue his dream of being a writer and acts as one of Charlie’s few friends early in the school year. The Perks of Being a Wallflower also spends time critiquing and showcasing our culture, referencing movies, plays, books, and a ton of music.
The only thing this film is lacking is something to really pull me in deep. The drama, emotion, apprehension, and joy is there, but this film lacks the ability to tug on my heart stings, choke me up in the heavy bits. So, I really like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I do not love it.
Overall, The Perks of Being a Wallflower made it from small indie to wider distribution for a very good reason: the film is excellent. It establishes and develops the relationships of the characters wonderfully, it rejoices the triumphant moments, laments the somber moments, and perfectly pulls off the 1990′s high school setting.
What Should You Do? Go out of your way to find it, then go see it.