I have to admit that when I saw the trailer for “The Perks Of Being A Wallflower”, I thought it looked kind of generic. How wrong I was. This is a powerful and emotional film, powered by vivid and absorbing performances. It is based on a book that was published over a decade ago. Not since “Dazed and Confused” have I seen a movie that truly captures adolescence like this movie does.
The story surrounds Charlie, played by Logan Lerman. He is a freshmen at middle school and on his first day his only friend is his English teacher. Charlie is introverted and gives the impression that he has been through some sort of childhood trauma. He is eventually befriended by two seniors Patrick (Ezra Miller) and his step sister Sam (Emma Watson). They are also outsiders but not quite as cut off as Charlie. Together they go through the year and deal with secret homosexuality, drugs, and forbidden loves.
I realize that so far the description makes it seem simplistic and on the surface it kind of is. But there buried wounds that each of these characters carry that will surface at some point throughout the movie. It is amazing what some of these characters have had to overcome, or think they have overcome. I don’t want to say too much. Not because there are surprises but because of how they slowly come to the surface at different points in the movie.
The performances by the principal cast are a revelation. Logan Lerman in particular has been stuck in some pretty generic films to start his career but here plays a seemingly average, nice kid on the outside, all the while harboring buried demons. He blacks out at moments of intense emotion. His final scenes are a spellbinding yet tragic journey deep in to his soul.
Emma Watson, fresh off of playing Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series, portrays a girl so lovable yet misguided and scarred from some bad decisions she has made in her life. Her step brother Peter, is played by Ezra Miller, who gave an equally strong, albeit different type of performance last year in “We Need To Talk About Kevin”.
As I looked further in to this film I found that the director, Stephen Chbosky, also wrote the screenplay, which is based on the book which he also wrote. Not very common to find one person who has created the source then adapted it to film. The result is one of the best movies I have ever seen about teenage life.