If one were to attempt to describe what it feels like to grow up in a world where everyone around you not only ignores you, but your childhood past is so traumatic that life is just a challenge to get up in the morning and function like a normal human being. This would be the feeling that that Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being A Wallflower delivers with a deadly precision.
Based off the novel by the same name, Perks writer and director is actually one in the same. However, this is nothing new many novelists have turned their novels into films as well. The first two that come to mind are Michael Crichton, who has directed such films as Westworld (1973) and The Great Train Robbery (1978). Then there is Nora Ephron whom has directed such classics as When Harry Met Sally (1989) and Sleepless in Seattle (1993); both films starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan respectively. Movies and novels may be two entirely different things, but when you have not only written a novel with both characters and story well established, but have also written a screenplay based on the same story with the same characters no-one else out there will know the characters as well as you do at this point. This is proven nonetheless in this coming of age story.
Charlie (Logan Lerman) is the troubled high school kid no one knows or rather appears to care about and if his life isn’t difficult enough; he still hasn’t gotten over the death of his aunt Helen (Melanie Lynskey). Needless to say that Charlie’s Brother Chris (Zane Holtz) left high school as the popular kid, so Charlie in many ways has big shoes to fill. Then one day in class Patrick (Ezra Miller) speaks out, as he seems to do many times in the film before we even get to know him and this stimulates Charlie and he tells Patrick he likes whatever it was he said or did. Thus, a friendship is crafted and once you mange to make one friend others will inevitably follow. We then meet Sam (played by the beautiful Emma Watson) then things really begin to happen for Charlie and life starts to pick up for him like never before. However, as life begins to take its toll on Charlie’s friends he realizes that they won’t be around forever and things get bad for him as it appears he needs attention from someone whom understands him, but this is one of the few things that we see him go through. Because he discovers what its like to have that first love, as well as that first major heartbreak, and the meaning of what true friendship actually is as well.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is easily the best coming of age movies I think I have ever seen. Many of the characters like Sam or even Patrick remind me of people I have met in my life, whether it be the outspoken person who isn’t afraid to share his opinion or even act out in class in spite of a teacher’s inability to actually teach a class; or the borderline gothic chic who gets off on calling people out on their bullshit. You will find someone here that you can relate to as well as situations you can relate to , because we have all gone through high school dealing with similar situations like shown here.
The acting from all parties here is spot on, and Emma Watson is phenomenal in her first post-humus Harry Potter roll. She gives Sam the emotional detachment from the people around here the perfect touch, and for those of us who know people like this know exactly what I’m talking about. Paul Rudd provides the icing on the cake here as Mr. Anderson Charlie’s English teacher, whom isn’t afraid to provide some honest life advice when Charlie looks to him for further suggested reading.
If The Perks of Being A Wallflower is playing in your selected city, I recommend checking it out; it just might be this year’s best independent film.