Totally entertained by excellent performances and blown away with the script for the film, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a film I highly recommend for others to view, as it is so much more than it appears on the surface. The film has depth. It is good that it is marketed carefully so the viewers can actually be fully engaged by each one of the characters and the journey they each have in their respective lives. This is not just another “coming of age” story or young actors clowning around without a purpose.
I have not read the 1999 bestseller by writer/director Stephen Chbosky that he based his screenplay on. He created the characters in the book that are absolutely similar to real life people we know or recall from our younger days. No one really knows what may be going on in someone else’s world to cause their behavior, unless they are willing to share with someone they trust. In Chbosky’s film, the viewer slowly learns about the characters, one by one, until we discover how their lives are impacted by the very people they trust. Even though it is set in 1991, the story still has applicability now. Sadly.
There are several young actors that each turn in great performances, starting with the lead, Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson, The Three Muskateers), as Charlie, a freshman in high school. Emma Watson, known for her performances in Harry Potter films, is excellent as Sam, a senior in the same school as Charlie. I am really glad to witness Watson’s performance, as this one absolutely impresses me more than any scene from Harry Potter. Sam has a bond with Patrick (Ezra Miller, We Need to Talk About Kevin, City Island), also a Senior and their friend, Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman, Arrested Development).
Despite Charlie’s younger age, he clicks with Patrick one day and this connection seems to alter Charlie’s views of the world as he navigates through his first year in high school. Many of the things we hear of or see happening in high schools are brought front and center in this film, including mature thematic material, drug and alcohol use, sexual content including references, and a fight – all involving teens. It is still kept relatively mild to qualify for the PG-13 rating. There is some humor in this dramatic romance film, but most certainly is not the type to cause rolling in the aisles at all.
Although the introverted freshman is “adopted” by two seniors in his school and they introduce him to the reality of their worlds, they all evolve and take steps toward the next stage in their life, hopefully better and stronger. The unfortunate thing about the characters in the film is that their stories are not limited to fiction; someone has lived through this in real life and we all probably know someone that fits the description. Furthermore, not everyone had a lifesaver or a safety net to rely on to turn their life around.
This film is certainly worth paying the full price for at the theater, without a doubt.