The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chboski, 2012)
After having issues in mid school, Charlie (Logan Lerman) is having problems making friends as a freshman. Reserved and mostly silent, he gets along with his English teacher Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd), who becomes his guide or older advice. Until he meets Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson), they are step siblings and immediately took Charlie under their wings.
This coming of age story of a normal kid who has some issues might be the story of any kid in College. If like many of us you were an outcast in those years and that you weren’t part of the cool kids’ gang, who was in this gang anyway, you will surely fell for Charlie and you’ll want the best for him. The story is at some times funny, touching, heart-whelming, but always really connected to what a teenager may have lived in this difficult period of one’s life. At this age we all want friends and be accepted by our peers. Their acceptation and support helps us grow into adulthood and builds our confidence and make us better persons.
Charlie’s first love, his strong friendships, and the mature guidance of Mr. Anderson are some of the many elements that are rendered so truly without any vulgarity or puritanism of the typical teen movie. The kids are taking booze, drugs, and are having sex. They always did and they always will be it is stupid to think otherwise that this rite of passage of teenage years will change much. It was handled well and it kept the film from falling into a mediocre paved way. It is not highlighted either that they only party.
One of the most touching thing is to gaze how the small group of friends that Charlie joins actually accepts him and sees him better than he really does himself. They care for each other and I think that it is one of the major forces of The Perks of Being a Wallflower to show how it is important to have friends, but more importantly to have friends that care for each other.
On a personal note, my teenage years were more or less similar to Charlie’s and I felt that its author-writer-director Stephen Chboski understood exactly what it was to be this kid. In fact, I wonder how much of Chboski there is in Charlie. It sounds almost like a true story dramatized here and there. Very few films about teens have moved me this way and I got the same feeling that Almost Famous gave me when I watched it for the first time more than ten years ago.
One cannot write about The Perks of Being a Wallflower and not mention the outstanding performance by Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, and Emma Watson. Lerman inhabits Charlie and he doesn’t seem to have to work his role, he was the character. Same thing for Mr. Miller who plays many levels and is a revelation. The last but not the least of the central characters, the young Emma Watson is a delight to watch in a cast other than being a wizard. She is delightful and the chemistry with his co-leads is perfectly believable. Without this cast, The Perks of Being a Wallflower would not have been the same film.
Few movies, books, stories can move me that much as The Perks of Being a Wallflower did. It succeeds in a very unique manner that is more visceral and emotive than I can actually explain. Definitely, it will end up on my list of the ten best films of 2012, if I ever take the energy to assemble one someday. On a final note, the soundtrack is superb and mentions The Smiths and David Bowie.