MOVIE REVIEW: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” stars Logan Lerman (Fury, Noah), Emma Watson (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Colonia), Ezra Miller (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Justice League ), Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries [TV series], Let’s Be Cops), Johnny Simmons (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Jennifer’s Body), Mae Whitman (One Fine Day, The DUFF), Dylan McDermott (Olympus Has Fallen, The Practice [TV series]), Erin Wilhemi (Unsane, Disconnect), Kate Walsh (Grey’s Anatomy [TV series], Kicking & Screaming ), Zane Holtz (Katye Kene [TV series], Hunter Killer), and Paul Rudd (Ant-Man , The Fundamentals of Caring). It is written and directed by Stephen Chbosky (Wonder, Beauty and the Beast ). Charlie (Lerman), a shy and outspoken freshman, makes friends with a group of seniors who open him up and show him what life is really about.
“We accept the love we think we deserve.” There’s a certain checklist of items that comes with crafting a bankable coming-of-age tale: angst, melancholy, self-reflection, often a narration. I’m sure there’s more, but you get the point. You know it when you see it. And when a film like “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” comes along that, while meeting those requirements, manages to make itself stand out amongst the rest, that’s special.
Written and directed by the author of the book it’s based on, “Perks of Being a Wallflower” takes us back to the high school life and all of its simple complexities. The social class systems, dances, school spirit; it’s all there, ripe for the analysis of our lead character, who is played by a young(er) Logan Lerman. He shines in this movie, embodying a freshman who finds friendship in seniors who are at a turning point in their lives. Set in the 90s, it’s quite crazy how this story never feels old. It’s a tune that is still being sung, whether that be the portrayal of trying to fit in or find love in a place where it’s hard to catch a break. It’s familiar, but still captivating when the lens of Lerman’s Charlie is factored in. I resonated with the guy (some of the time), and found his arc to be enough of a shift from the typical high school drama to warrant a recommendation.
The rest of the cast is filled in extremely well, with stand-out performances by Emma Watson and Ezra Miller, who play Charlie’s newfound friends, Sam and Patrick. I enjoyed their chemistry. They were entertaining, and provided enough of a contrast to rattle Charlie’s being and throw him back into the world; to come out of his shell and enjoy life. It’s truly a wonderful cast, all of whom making it their best work to date (at least in my opinion). And the supporting cast that filled the frame did a solid job as well, creating a fairly realistic atmosphere that kept me glued to the screen.
It’s undeniable that Stephen Chbosky’s story is engaging. While it has predictable elements, what can be figured out doesn’t matter. The journey of these three characters and the moments expressed through the cinematography are what defines this experience. I was intrigued almost the entire time, feeling for the joyful, humorous scenes as well as the sad, depressing ones. The writing and direction worked so well to craft tense drama that I even looked away from the screen during a moment that didn’t even involve gross-out imagery or horror. It was simply a crazy circumstance that lent to major consequences. I’d say that’s commendable if anything.
No, “Perks” is completely original. It gave me “Garden State” vibes and showcased what we have seen in other teenage dramas before it. But what helps it rise to the top is its phenomenal cast and the themes expressed that don’t solely hinge on the high school experience. People in different demographics will walk away with something different in their mind. For me, the weight of getting into a college wasn’t as heavy. What I found to be the hard hitter was the dissecting of the faces people wear, and how in our love for someone else, we can end up doing more harm than good (that scene between Charlie and Sam [Watson] in her bedroom towards the third act has to be my favorite). It creates an atmosphere and tone that I ended up thoroughly enjoying, and breezed through the film in a snap. I think it’s one of the better coming-of-age stories I have seen in a while, and if you haven’t seen it, I recommend you do. FINAL SCORE: 90%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: