The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012).
Director: Stephen Chbosky.
Starring: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Paul Rudd.
Run Time: 103 minutes.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower stars Logan Lerman as Charlie, a shy and affected freshman highschooler, who is taken under the wing of a group of flamboyant arty hipster seniors. A recipe for disaster in my book. Who wants to watch a load of entitled whiny youths moan about how hard their lives are as they listen to indie music and experience a bunch of trivial scenarios together, while skirting over genuine issues that teens face? However, apparently girls read Geeks Unleashed (allegedly), so I thought I would go and see a more ‘female friendly’ film (you dolls can watch any genre you damn please). If I hated it, at least I would have some additional ammo to aim at the trend for vapid and empty teen high school films, and would be able to rant about it on here. If I liked it, then I would have seen a good film. No brainer. Win win.
I loved it. I genuinely did. The film is filled with so much warmth, and although films of this ilk don’t usually float my boat, it really grabbed me emotionally. I would go as far as to say Wallflower is my surprise hit of the year. For something so unexpected to produce such a heartfelt and honest account of growing up really blew me away. I was obviously the coolest/funniest/sexiest kid at my school, but even I could relate to certain aspects of the characters. It boils down to the universal issue of friendship and acceptance, and handles it well.
In a wider sense, and best of all, the film dealt with some real meaty issues. I’m of the opinion that popular teen media is usually a sugar-coated mess filled with pop-culture buzz words written for shallow, vapid, spoiled brats by out of touch, talentless, cynical adults. ‘Aww, poor chip can’t go to the prom, because he didn’t get straight A’s from his overpriced prep school’, etc. Here instead is a real sensitivity to the trails of growing up. There is poignancy. Problems aren’t just added as an afterthought, they add depth to the plot and characters, elevating past the usual kiddy melodrama. We almost steer into muddy waters with some contrived scenes and character quirks (Buddhism and a love of old music etc), but they feel more like an exploration of youthful folly, like the film knows that they have yet to truly form their identities. This is all handled expertly by Stephen Chbosky, who also happened to write the book, which allows us to assume that he has been faithful to his original intended message.
The film has a somewhat timeless quality associated with this, but although not stated in the film, it is set around 1991-92, like the novel. This makes it hard to place in our current hipster society, with mix tapes The Smiths, typewriters and Rocky Horror picture Show all present. It has a strange, almost modern feeling though, which I suspect will help the film to age well.
What I really loved most about Wallflower was the fantastic cast. Other than Emma Watson, I’d only seen the other two leads in one film each (Logan Lerman in the awful Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, and Ezra Miller in the unusual We Need to Talk About Kevin). For Watson, this was the perfect post-Potter role. It wasn’t too deep and dark, but required her to actually act and get her teeth into the role. It’s easy to see why she is a symbol of lust for so many, she exudes a warmth, intelligence and fearlessness which simultaneously makes her an attainable love interest while placing her on a pedestal.
Logan Lerman is perfectly cast as Charlie, holding the screen well as an anti-leading man. It is a subtle performance and understated. After Percy Jackson, I had little hope for Lerman, but the boy can act and show impressive range displaying all of Charlie’s compulsions and anxieties.
The standout star of the film was easily Ezra Miller as Patrick, the flamboyantly gay misfit senior. Miller has a great future ahead of him, but in the here and now, he steals every scene. The film is actually really funny in between the serious emotional stuff, mostly due to Patrick. His struggle through his formative years is on show throughout, and deftly handled by Miller.
There are so many subplots present with minor and major characters involved, which adds to the plots unpredictable rollercoaster. My only real gripes were trivial (lack of Paul Rudd, Charlie doesn’t feel like a writer and doesn’t really do much writing) and easily made up for with great acting and writing. An admirable mention also goes to the fantastic indie score, which allowed me to sing along to under my breath.
If you are a man looking to impress a lady, or a lady looking to watch some ladythings, you can do worse than watch The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I just hope to god this doesn’t start a worrying trend of me liking chick flicks/yoof movies/sappy shit.
Score: 8 out of 10.
If you liked this, check out: Juno, Adventureland, Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club.