The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of the best films you will see this year.
Based on the book of the same name, writer/director Stephen Chbosky has produced a great coming of age film. Every now and then a coming of age film comes along that is heralded for “defining a generation;” films like Rebel Without a Cause, Breakfast Club, Empire Records, Almost Famous, Can’t Hardly Wait, or Good Will Hunting. Drama or comedy, these films strike a chord with the audience long into their adulthood – maybe you had a crush on the leads, or maybe it really resonated with your experience as a confused adolescent. Maybe you just liked the music!
Whatever the reason, these movies stay with you. You’ll have late-night conversations about these modern classics of growing up with your friends, discussing the “Why”s and “Hows” of your future. Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of these movies.
The film centers on Charlie (Logan Lerman) who is beginning his first year in high school. Charlie is an unconventional thinker, shy and unpopular. He finds himself standing on the fringes of life, which offers him a unique perspective, but much like everyone else, there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor instead of from the sidelines. He meets his first real friends, Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller), who take Charlie under their wing. As they show Charlie new and amazing things, Charlie slowly starts to “participate” in life instead of just watching, leading him down a path that causes him to struggle with his past, depression, drugs, homosexuality, sex, and suicide.
It’s a year of his life Charlie will never forget.
Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller all deliver brilliant performances hopefully to be remembered throughout their careers. Each brings their characters to life in such a believable way that you feel as if they are your friends too and you are on the same journey as they are. Watson’s Sam is warm, caring, and beautiful and perfectly exemplifies the girl-next-door type that is guaranteed to break your heart. Watson has come a long way from her life as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series. She proves herself to be one fine actress that will give us a great performance every time she’s on screen.
Ezra Miller has already earned acclaim with his performance as Kevin Khatchadourian in the critically praised We Need to Talk About Kevin. Here he proves once again just how good he is. However, it’s Lerman’s portrayal of Charlie that will be remembered most from this film. His performance is emotionally endearing and heartbreaking. For someone so young he gives us a character that is wise in years but is young in experience. In each scene he manages to capture your heart and break it several times over the course of the film. He is perfect as Charlie. Lerman looks like he’ll have a wonderful career.
A common trait amongst coming-of-age-films are pop culture and music references. Just like in the novel, Charlie and his friends are defined by their favorite music. The amazing soundtrack brings the sounds of the passionate 70s and 80s alternative and rock scenes, featuring David Bowie, The Smiths, and Dexys Midnight Runners among others. Each song is an important and memorable part of the atmosphere.
Being a shy outsider or loner is such a universal feeling that anyone can relate to this story. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a movie that transcends any generation that is just starting to find themselves living their formidable high school years. Coming-of-age films are remembered because they are undeniably relateable. They make you see things you may have missed, giving you time to reflect as an adult on your youth. It’s one of the great reasons why film is such a powerful art medium.
Do yourself a huge favor and go see this movie. It’s beautiful, emotional and wonderful in a way that makes you remember what it was like to be young and have the whole world at your fingertips.