Movie Review: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 21:10
A coming-of-age, generation-defining film nostalgic of 90s-era high school culture, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” leaves you emotionally paralyzed with a rather strange combination of feelings—sadness, empathy, hope and wonder. The film evokes a sense of self-realization and introspection, prompting audiences to take another look at their surroundings. Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller beautifully personify their characters, presenting audiences with a group of complex yet relatable teenage misfits.
Based on the widely popular book, “Perks” is written and directed by author Stephen Chbosky. Published in 1999, it is an epistolary novel chronicling the life of Charlie, a high school freshman. The book is comprised of letters that Charlie writes to an anonymous friend, through which readers gain insight on his emotional and intellectual development.
The film stays true to the book—Charlie (Lerman) is a timid, insightful, honest young boy, with an incessant love for literature and lack in social life, which makes him the object of ridicule for many students. During a football game, he meets two eccentric seniors: Patrick (Ezra Miller) an openly gay student, and his step-sister Sam (Emma Watson). They immediately take him under their wings, bringing him adventure and happiness.
Charlie’s confidence buds and he finds himself falling for the daring and independent Sam. Patrick’s flamboyance and carefree attitude give a light-hearted tone to the movie, until he comes into a conflict with his closeted partner. Complications ensue in Charlie’s social circle and as the days lead up to his friends’ graduation, he further maroons himself into deep psychological issues.
The most engaging aspect of the film was the acting of the lead stars. Lerman gives a compelling performance and Watson is breathtaking. Her first lead since “Harry Potter” proves she can tackle roles significantly different from her usual spell-binding witchcraft.
Miller proves to be the real star—he adds a multi-faceted dimension to the stereotypes of his flamboyant character. He’s an emblem of consistency, with fixed moral values and belief and knows exactly who he is from the very start.
The film itself turned out to be a beautiful rendering of the book—perhaps the most accurate adaptation possible. Chbosky’s role as screenwriter and director gave him a good grasp on which part of the book could be translated well into film. After years of waiting and planning, Chbosky was finally able to bring his critically-acclaimed novel to the big screen, commencing the celebration of delighted fans.
That said, “Perks” can stand alone from the book. Of course, the fans will rejoice in seeing Charlie’s words come to life, but the film has a wider appeal. Charlie questions ideas, relationships and concepts that many people have thought about in their lives, making him a relatable character. Audiences will find themselves cringing during Charlie’s embarrassing moments, perhaps crying during his bitter hardships and gleaming with joy when he finds solace in music and friends. Chbosky’s concept of adolescence is captivating—it is a meaningful depiction of many people’s lives. No matter who you are, this film is sure to affect you in the smallest sense, even if for a brief moment. And in that moment, to quote a popular line from the film, I guarantee you—you will feel infinite.