Going into tonight’s screening of The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, I wasn’t expecting to get as much out of the film as I did. Upon walking out, it really made me reflect on all the moviegoing experiences I’ve had this year, thinking back to when I thought Chronicle was the best film of 2012 so far early in the year. Then The Hunger Games. The Avengers. The Intouchables (yes, a foreign film scraped the top of that list for a while), and then, of course, The Dark Knight Rises. However, upon reflecting on those experiences, and reflecting on what I saw tonight, I can honestly say none of those films quite moved me as much as this one did. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower follows the tumultous freshman year of an emotionally scarred teenager named Charlie, and how he deals with making friends and trying to fit in.
One thing that is most easy to screw up in teen movies is casting. When you hire people too old for their parts, or who act a bit too over-
the-top that it comes off as kitschy and insincere, the whole backbone of the movie, the character we’re supposed to be with, falls apart. Not only does Perks not fall into that extreme, it rises to the one opposite it. The casting of this film is pitch-perfect, starting with Logan Lerman as Charlie, played with tiny subtleties of emotion and heart that it’s hard not to care about this troubled character’s journey from minute one. You just want him to succeed. Following him is Emma Watson, of course of Harry Potter fame, as Sam. Not only does Watson find herself being able to break the mold of being “Hermione”, she does it in spectacular fashion. For the runtime of this film, Watson isn’t Hermione or “the girl from Harry Potter”, she’s Sam, a character who’s 100% believable, lovable, and extremely well-crafted. However, coming in with one of the greatest performances of the year so far, and stealing the show in nearly every scene he’s in, is Ezra Miller as Patrick. While Patrick could seem like a semi-offensive stereotype at first, it doesn’t take long for him to become so much more than that, helping provide an emotional bite to this film that makes it hard-hitting, unapologetic, and true. Miller infuses energy and life into each and every delivery, and earns each and every rip-roaring laugh he gets during this film.
The plot of this film is a story worth telling, one that twists and turns with emotional punches and revelations. And while some of the extreme subject matters this film deals with may not be relatable for everybody, the core emotion and heart of every one of these characters has something that we can all relate to. Perks from the beginning doesn’t set out to tell a story that sugarcoats things, and it doesn’t. The film is painful at times, but in a haunting, beautiful, emotionally affecting way. Adapting his own novel to the screen (and then directing it), Stephen Chbosky does rely a bit too much on voiceover to explain the plot, more towards the beginning, making it seem like a book-on-tape set to some moving images in a few short moments, but that fades away very quickly, as Chbosky seems to find the perfect balance between voiceover and dialogue, making the times voiceover comes in more sparce and meaningful.
In places most teen movies nowadays would, Perks doesn’t hold back. It’s not afraid to reach for the heartstrings and tug them downwards, it isn’t afraid to make you feel uncomfortable and some points. It isn’t afriad to send chills down your spine with moments beautiful and heartfelt. In the end, the film is the embodiment of a really, really screwed up high school experience, but a high school experience that can ring true for somebody in some way nonetheless. I plan on seeing Perks again, and I have no doubt that I will fall in love with the characters and be just as affected by it all over again. A teen film that deserves to be recognized as one of the best teen films of the 21st century so far, there are many, many perks to seeing The Perks Of Being A Wallfower.
FINAL GRADE: ★★★★★★★★★★ (10/10 stars)
FINAL SAY: Wonderfully acted and made, with an emotional story that is powerfully told, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower isn’t a perfect movie (nothing is, really), but for anyone ages 13-18, it might as well be considered one. Without a doubt, the best of 2012 so far.