‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ delivers on film
Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 00:03
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky has been one of my favorite novels since high school.
Its beautiful prose and cutting insight stayed with me throughout the years, and when I first heard it was being made into a film, I was worried it wouldn’t translate well to the silver screen.
I was wrong.
Fans of the best-selling novel will enjoy this movie. The tone is consistent with Chbosky’s writing, and the message remains clear.
Additionally, Logan Lerman’s performance is perfect – he couldn’t have portrayed Charlie’s character more clearly.
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is an incredibly touching coming-of-age story that takes place during Charlie’s freshman year of high school.
In the book, the story is communicated through Charlie’s anonymously signed letters to an unknown recipient – a person identified only as someone he heard about from his school.
The film effectively uses the letters throughout as a way for Charlie’s character to narrate.
When he begins high school, Charlie is in a very bad place, mentally.
But after befriending Patrick (Ezra Miller), a senior from his shop class, and Patrick’s stepsister Sam (Emma Watson), Charlie finally begins to feel a connection to his peers. He starts to come out of his shell with his new friends, but he still maintains his unique, naively genuine outlook on the world.
Throughout the film, we witness Charlie feel emotion much more intensely than others, and while this adds to his uncanny ability for empathy, it also holds him back. Although he thrives in his social life, unresolved pain begins to surface from his Aunt Helen’s death when he was a child, as well as from his best friend’s more recent suicide.
Charlie’s story will connect to anyone who has every felt lonely, isolated or confused – anyone who went through high school, basically.
That said, his youthful insight is still relatable for any age group. The allure is in this boy’s uniquely beautiful – sometimes tragically so – perspective of the world and his peers.
Through this we witness the truth of human connection and the overwhelming power of friendship.
As I mentioned earlier, other than the story itself, Logan Lerman’s portrayal of Charlie is what makes this film incredible.
He perfectly captures the juxtaposition of Charlie’s anxiety and wonderment about the world, communicating his character’s deeply personal problems in a way that connects the whole audience.
Emma Watson was also a pleasant surprise as Sam, a character I wasn’t sure she’d be able to access well with her acting. I enjoyed her performance, though, and her chemistry with Lerman worked well in the film.
Other noteworthy cast members include Kate Walsh and Dylan McDermott as Charlie’s parents, Ezra Miller as the charming and endearing Patrick, Paul Rudd as Charlie’s motivational English teacher, Mr. Anderson, Mae Whitman as Charlie’s hilariously overbearing first girlfriend, Mary Elizabeth and Melanie Lynskey as Charlie’s Aunt Helen.
If you haven’t read the book, it is certainly worth reading, and the film does a wonderful job of communicating Chbosky’s original work for a film audience.
The movie has an 85 percent fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.com, and it is currently available for rent or purchase on iTunes, Amazon and On Demand.