The Perks of Being a Wallflower may just be one of the best films you see all year, which isn’t a surprise considering the author of the novel on which it’s based wrote the screenplay and also directed the movie. Having an author adapt his/her novel into a screenplay is common, but to have that author also direct the film is highly unusual, and Stephen Chbosky only had one directing credit to his name (from 1995) before this film. With a talented cast including Emma Watson (sporting an American accent!), Logan Lerman, and Ezra Miller, this movie is one that you can’t miss.
The scene is early 1990s Philadelphia, and Logan Lerman plays Charlie, an incoming freshman in high school who has lately been having a tough time. It’s alluded that he used to hear voices and “see things,” and things got worse after a tragic event involving his best friend in 8th grade. As a 9th grader, he has no friends, even though his sister, Candace (Nina Dobrev), attends the same school as him; she’s too busy hanging out with her boyfriend, Ponytail Derek (Nicholas Braun), to introduce Charlie to people. Charlie soon becomes friends with Patrick (Ezra Miller), though, a senior retaking his freshman shop class, and he introduces Charlie to fellow seniors Sam (Emma Watson), Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman), and others who aren’t afraid to “be different.”
Charlie has a major crush on Sam, who ends up being his first kiss; after going to the Sadie Hawkins dance with Mary Elizabeth, however, he finds himself suddenly dating her, which he’s not really happy about. Sam is dating an older college guy, meanwhile, and Charlie is afraid to tell her about his feelings. Patrick is secretly dating the school quarterback, because the quarterback has a girlfriend and doesn’t want to come out of the closet to his friends. Charlie must navigate through freshman year of high school, but soon finds that life is much happier when you have friends to share it with.
Most people know Logan Lerman from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and I thought he did extraordinarily well here; so did Watson, as his friend Sam, and Miller, as the gay artistic friend. Paul Rudd has a small role as Charlie’s English teacher, whom Charlie forms a bond with since he loves to read, and Dylan McDermott and Kate Walsh play Charlie’s mostly-normal parents. Melanie Lynskey also appears in flashbacks, as Charlie’s deceased aunt with whom he shared a secret. I was also pleasantly surprised at Watson’s American accent; if you had never seen her in the Harry Potter series, you would have definitely believed she was American, and as the movie went on I began to forget that she used to be Hermione in those films.
Yes, definitely see this movie. I’m guessing fans of the book will love this film as well, though I should reread the novel at some point to compare the two. Everything that happens in the movie could have happened in a real high school, and the last 10 or 15 minutes puts an interesting spin on the film’s plot as a whole. I actually wouldn’t even mind a sequel to Wallflower, though that won’t happen, as I found myself thinking about Charlie long after the movie ended and wondering how he would fare in his sophomore year and beyond. Most people hated high school, yet this film makes you want to relive those days – the friends, the experiences, the ups and downs, and, as Charlie says, the feeling of “being infinite.”
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is currently in theaters, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 103 minutes.
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5