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“The Perks of Being A Wallflower” – Review (POSITIVE)

October 6, 2012

27 years ago, John Hughes captured audiences about the trials, tribulations, drama, love, fear, and surprises about the high school life in “The Breakfast Club”. Yet, today, a popular book by the name of The Perks of Being A Wallflower has surfaced, touching the soul of every high schooler, new and old, really getting to the core about how a freshman really sees the world of high school. Stephen Chbosky’s character, Charlie, says that high school is scarier than middle school, it is.

Chbosky’s book has become a cult phenomenon with the teenage crowd, they talk about it, they love it, and they even respect it. I’ve yet to read the novel, but it’s on my to do list. Chbosky made the smart choice to take full creative control of his literary property; scribing the screenplay and directing the movie, which marks his return to the director’s chair after a 17 year absents. The film shows the personal vision it’s evoking, it’s been stated that the book is semi-autobiographical, but the difference between Charlie & Stephen are vast in a lot of areas.

A 15-year-old high school kid named Charlie (Logan Lerman), is an endearing, naïve, and dishearten outsider. Charlie has a broken past that haunts him to this very day; the suicide of his best friend, the sudden death of his Aunt Helen (Melanie Lynskey) and his own mental illness while struggling to find a group of people with whom he belongs with. Now, beginning his first year of high school, he has to begin coping with his first love, a senior named Sam (Emma Watson), the possibility of finding a way to make friends and feel important/noticed. The recluse Charlie is taken under the wings of Sam and her brother Patrick (Ezra Miller), who welcome him to the real world, and show him how to feel infinite.

I think on a certain level, many people can find this movie very relatable. We’ve all been through high school, we’ve all experienced the high school drama, and it can have a mass affect on ones life. Charlie’s problems may be more intense than most high school kids, but it’s not far fetched. The movie appears to be set in the late 80’s/early 90’s, so people who went to high school back then should be able to connect to this movie in greater emotional way; the mix tape generation!

“Perks…” has a fantastic lead of young talent, Logan Lerman is starting to branch out as a better dramatic actor, the character of Charlie is by no means an easy role to play, so it was nice to see an actor who was able to play him in a just manner. I can over here audience members who are clearly fans of the book, proud to say he did the character justice. Emma Watson, finally making her way into other types of cinematic media that doesn’t involve spells or wands, really shines in the role Sam. She plays the kindness mixes with her damaged goods mentality equally well. But, one of the performances that will leave a stamp on viewers is Ezra Miller’s portrayal of the flamboyant Patrick. Miller has become one of those young actors to watch out for in the past 2 years, his last performance, “We Need To Talk About Kevin”, shows he has a wide dramatic range. Here, he shows he still has that range, but he can also be extremely funny, I can’t see why the Academy wouldn’t consider him for a Best Supporting Actor nomination.

My beef with the movie, if there’s any, is mild, I think my only two concerns were the actual physical casting of Charlie and a few plot points that weren’t explored enough. Logan Lerman is terrific in the role, but I just cannot really buy that he’s playing a freshman in high school, and acting against Ezra & Emma, who play SENIORS, we’re supposed to accept that 110% of the time? Lerman does make up for it at times, regarding how well he plays the innocents of the character. Also, there was something briefly brought up in the film; Charlie loses his best friend to suicide. Tragic, I know, but why didn’t we learn more about that? There’s a subplot regarding Charlie’s Aunt that’s had mass psychological trauma onto him, if we could’ve seen that and the contrast about his best friends death I think it would’ve added some interesting turns to the characters mental state of mind.

In a nutshell, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is authentic, real, and can be darkly funny. It’s a movie filled with winning lead performances and heartbreaking drama. In my honest opinion, I feel this generation has found it’s new “Breakfast Club”, a bold statement on my part, but I’m willing to take the risk. It was that good.

GRADE: A-

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