The Perks of Being Wallflower follows Charlie (Logan Lerman), who has just started his freshman year of High School. Socially awkward and isolated, he befriends a group of older kids, who embrace they’re status as outsiders. The film focuses on Charlie’s experiences of the pitfalls and melodrama of adolescence, along with his newfound friends, which includes the flamboyant Patrick (Ezra Miller) and his free-spirited sister, Sam (Emma Watson).
The Perks of Being a Wallflower covers a range of themes such as sexuality, homophobia, drug use and mental illness, which are interwoven into the lives of teenagers. The film’s strong themes are combined with the nostalgia of the ’90s. We’re given everything from Dexy’s Midnight Runners to the Rocky Horror Show. Amidst the nostalgia, the film nicely encapsulates the experience of being a clumsy, awkward teen.
Just like the book of the same name, the film is told through Charlie’s letters which he addresses to “Friend”. We are positioned with Charlie as he journeys through school, struggling to make friends until he meets Patrick and Sam at a High School football match.
When he becomes part of the group of wallflowers, Charlie starts to outgrow his insecurities. His new friends help change his outlook on life. However, there’s always a sense that Charlie’s vulnerable to self-destruction, and Logan Lerman is pitch perfect in the role. I thought he played the character brilliantly, easily capturing the introversion of the character from the original book.
Also, Ezra Miller and Emma Watson are great in their respective roles. When I read the book a second time after watching the film, it was hard not to visualise the on-screen portrayals. Miller’s Patrick may be cliché, as he does occupy the stereotypical gay best friend role, but he is still so much fun to watch. Watson’s Sam is both a strong female character, with goals and college aspirations, but she’s fragile at the same time.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is light-hearted and uplifting. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it does have some emotional and dark moments that take you by surprise. Although inferior to the book, as the film doesn’t quite capture the same magic and spark, it still comes pretty damn close to being just as good.
Also, the film is not filtered with loads of teenage parties and profanity. Although they do appear, it’s nowhere near the same level as what you would find in a raunchy teen comedy. So, I think The Perks of Being a Wallflower would appeal to older audiences who might just find themselves singing along to the David Bowie featured soundtrack.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a very enjoyable coming-of-age drama, providing an honest representation of both the joys and quarrels of adolescence.
Film Quote: “We accept the love we think we deserve.”
Directed and written by Stephen Chbosky
Stars: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Run Time: 102 min.
You might be interested in my other reviews of coming-of-age films, which you can find here