The Perks of Being a Wallflower



By Gary Dean Murray

Starring Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Erza Miller

Written and directed by Stephen Chbosky

Running time 103 min

MPAA Rating PG-13

Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE


John Hughes was a favorite director.  Some of his films were Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the epic The Breakfast Club.  He could take teen angst and make it a universally understood concept.  Though John Hughes did make other films, the teen comedies were his legacy.  Since then, there have been other directors who have tried to take over this mantel.  Most have failed.  The latest is Stephen Chbosky and the film is The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

The story is of Charlie (Logan Lerman) a freshman on the first day of school.  He is a bit of an introvert with a smart senior older sister and a college freshman football hero older brother.  With two stars in the house, he knows that much is expected of him.

One of Charlie’s classes is shop.  It is there that he meets senior Patrick (Erza Miller), a class clown who picked up the nickname ‘Nothing’.  At a football game, he then meets her step-sister Sam (Emma Watson).  The two are a part of the ‘alternative’ group, into Rocky Horror and cool edgy music.  Charlie is smitten by the older woman—a high school senior. 

The story is of the school year and of a deep, dark secret that is festering in the subconscious of Charlie.  Through Patrick and Sam, Charlie becomes friends with some of the more artistic kids in the school.  We also find that something is not right in the mind of Charlie.  As he grows up, Charlie finds that this terrible past event is trying to come to the surface of his mind. 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the cinematic debut of Stephen Chbosky, the author who wrote the book.  He knows the material very well and it shows in the details.  He captures both the little moments that are being 16 while dealing with some serious, life threatening issues.  He crafts a screenplay that keeps the essence of the book while expanding on some of the themes.  He also writes some great lines such as “We accept the love we think we deserve” and “Some people forget what its like to be 16 when they turn 17.”  For a first-time feature director, he makes magic. 

 Emma Watson makes her first step from being a kid actor to adult actor.  This is a layered performance that should get her some independent respect in certain circles of Hollywood.  Her Sam is a complicated young lady, no means a perfect kid, but someone who is trying to discover herself in this grand world.  This is a giant leap away from her Harry Potter experience.

Erza Miller delivers yet another stunning performance as Patrick.  The guy who shined in We Need to Talk about Kevin shows that he is one of the most exciting juvenile actors working in Hollywood.  He just flows as a young, confused individual.  His search for love and acceptance is universal and heartbreaking. 

This is not a perfect film.  Time and time again, one wonders exactly what year the film is taking place.  While the film is loosely placed in the early 1990’s, there are glaring details missing from the film.  More than once, people who lived through the time wonder why some things are the way they are in The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  It almost gets to the point where it becomes an irritation.  Also, there were way too many drug scenes.  At times, one wonders if someone had spliced a Cheech & Chong flick into the reels.

That criticism aside, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a cinematic gem.   It is the kind of film that certain kids will fall in love with, while their parents fight to have it banned.  There will be very few who will not have an opinion, good or bad, about this movie.  

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