The Perks of Being a Wallflower Directed By: Stephen Chbosky
Written By: Stephen Chbosky
Starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Mae Whitman, Paul Rudd, Kate Walsh, Dylan McDermott
Rated PG-13 | 102 Minutes
Release Date: October 5, 2012
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
A quirky, poignant coming-of-age story based on the best-selling novel by Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a heartfelt high school drama in the spirit of the late John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club.
Academically advanced, socially inept freshman Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a wallflower, always watching from the sidelines, until a group of charismatic seniors take him under their wing.
Gorgeous, free-spirited Sam (Emma Watson) and her cut-up stepbrother, Patrick (Ezra Miller), help guide Charlie through new friendships, first loves, and family dramas while introducing him to a world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Meanwhile, his English teacher, Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd), has introduced Charlie to the realm of literature, sparking his dreams of becoming a writer.
But even as Charlie thrives in this new world of mix-tapes and bacchanalian parties, the pain of his past – which includes his best friend’s recent suicide and the accidental death of his beloved Aunt Helen (Melanie Lynskey) – lingers just below the surface.
Written and directed by author Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower features beautiful, dreamlike cinematography by Andrew Dunn (Crazy, Stupid, Love.) that awakens a nostalgia for late ’80s fashion and dimly-lit basement gatherings, all to a soundtrack of The Smiths, David Bowie, New Order, Sonic Youth, and Dexy’s Midnight Runners.
The film features a brilliant ensemble of actors including Mae Whitman, Johnny Simmons, Nina Dobrev, Dylan McDermott, Kate Walsh, Joan Cusack, and… yes… Tom Savini, but ultimately it’s the power trio of Lerman, Watson, and Miller who elevate The Perks of Being a Wallflower from traditional teenage fair to timeless classic.
Lerman (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) wows as Charlie, who seems to be an even nerdier, more awkward version of Peter Parker, while Watson effortlessly conveys the complexity of her character with the kind of subtle elegance reserved for the likes of Natalie Portman and Anne Hathaway.
Watson, whose upcoming films include Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring and Darren Aronofsky’s Noah is easily Hollywood’s next big actress – and when she finally lays a kiss on Lerman’s Charlie, I couldn’t help myself from whispering, “five points to Gryffindor!”
The real story here though is Ezra Miller as Sam’s outwardly gay, endlessly adorable brother Patrick. You probably recognize Miller as Kevin from Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, where he plays Tilda Swinton’s vicious, demented teenage son. It’s amazing to see him play such a warm and charming, downright lovable character after his turn as an icy, dead-eyed psychopath.
I’ve yet to read Chbosky’s novel, but that’s about to change – I have a copy in front of me as I type this – so going into the movie adaptation I had little idea of what to expect. I assumed Perks would be your typical angst-ridden teenage melodrama – I certainly didn’t expect such an inspiring, life-affirming film.
Nothing has moved me as much as The Perks of Being a Wallflower this year… just beautiful, fantastic, blissful cinema. Perks is this year’s Beginners for me – a definitive, cathartic experience I’ll revisit and cherish for years to come.