Movie Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Starring: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller
Plot: A lonely freshman makes friend with 2 outgoing seniors.
Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a lonely teenager suffering from psychological issues. It is a reputation he is desperate to get away from, but no amount of planning can possibly make him ready for a life as a bullied high schooler. Eventually, he connects with 2 outgoing seniors, Sam and Patrick (Emma Watson and Ezra Miller, respectively). Sam is intelligent and confident, but as a freshman she ruined her reputation. Patrick is her gay step brother carrying on a secret relationship with a popular student. Over the course of a particularly eventful and stressful year, their friendship and self-worth is put to the test.
The movie is written for the screen and directed by first time and author of the source material, Stephen Chbosky. It certainly didn’t feel like it was directed by a first timer. It is shot with a deft hand with some very unique editing techniques for this kind of movie. It gives an extra leg up to a story that explores familiar territory. It does seem like it was written by the author of the novel though. It is jam-packed with every possible teenage problem and circumstance, especially for a story that only takes place over the course of a year. It was almost as if Chbosky had trouble letting go of some story elements. This leaves the narrative with a weird flow. There was one point that I was expecting credits to start rolling, but the movie ended up having 20 or so minutes left. This could have been a big potmark for a lot of movies, but Chbosky clearly understand the emotional depths of teenage personality types to carry the film. His casting choices and the direction of the characters are the strongest elements of the film.
Our point of view is Lerman;s Charlie, who is an incredible introvert. This is a big change for Lerman. A lot of the things I have seen him in like Meet Bill, Gamer, and even Percy Jackson are much more extrovert. He plays Charlie with an anti-screen presence. As the titular wallflower, it is his shtick to blend into the background and react subtly to the on-goings. We are kept involved with him through his narration, which takes the form of letters addressed simply to “friend.” He has this really amazing chemistry with Sam and Patrick. They are a couple of fast talkers, and Charlie is able to woo them with small, well-laced pieces of dialog.
As a freshman, Waton’s Sam got drunk too many times and ended up having sex with all the wrong guys. She seems destined to repeat the sins of her mother (choosing all the wrong guys). Her poor choices as a freshman left her as a den mother of sorts. She is constantly worried about her friends especially when they get too intozicated. Stealing the show is Ezra Miller. Miller plays Patrick broadly as a stereotypical effeminate and theatrical gay man. Thankfully, he doesn’t remain such a cartoon. Chbosky gives Miller plenty of quiet and sincere moments, which he handles perfectly.
I don’t think I have ever seen a movie that wallows in self-pity and tragedy as much as this one, but still ends up being so positive. It is a refreshing look at high school growing pains with an optimistic viewpoint.