Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Review

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Review
Director: Stephen Chbosky

Cast Headliners: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller

Original Release Date: September 21, 2012

Seen: March 2013 

Don’t be turned off by the title of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The name may be off-putting, but if one takes the chance to peer inside they will find a movie with surprising depth and entertainment.   High school can be either the best or worst years in someone’s life.  For myself, it was definitely somewhere in the middle.  Charlie (Lerman) has a pretty miserable start.  After staying home in 8th grade, he rejoins public schooling for high school. He is bullied at first, and feels utterly alone in the jungle that is the American education system. Luckily, he soon becomes friends with Sam (Watson) and her step-brother Patrick.  What follows in their film are various mis-adventures, as well as Charlie fighting his personal demons.

The film can be incredibly dark. Things are learned about the backstories of the primary characters which are truly horrific and shocking to hear. One of these is the reason for Charlie’s missing a year from school.  Personally, it was a bit startling to see these themes brought up in a movie involving teenagers.  I think, while perhaps shocking to witness, these are very real issues that need to be addressed and fixed in modern youths.  I must say that I found it a bit of a stretch to think high schoolers would hang out at college frats as much as these teens do, but perhaps I didn’t get around much in my youth.
Logan Lerman does a great job as Charlie, certainly breaking the image he had in the adventurous Percy Jackson movie. He gives the character a somber delicateness not often seen in cinema. He is a fascinating character, and the plot clearly shapes his motivations.   His two friends are also mold-breakes. Emma Watson is in her first major post-Harry Potter role as Sam, and she is nothing like Hermoine. Sam is outgoing and spunky and popular with people. She is literally the opposite of a certain geekish wizard girl. Watson has great chemistry with Lerman, both in a mentor way and later romantic and back again. The film has a twisting dense plot. Thirdly, Ezra Miller may perhaps be the shining star. As the gay Patrick, he has some great and memorable scenes. Certainly different from the psychotic Kevin from We Need to Talk about Kevin. He gives the film some hilarious humor, and truly shows his range as an actor. Each of the actors playing the characters is playing outside their type, and I believe that helps give the movie an atmosphere of fresh edginess.
Things can get extremely dark, but there is a lot of heart in this film. It is in many ways showing a nostalgic affection for the high school years. It points out the dark aspects of humanity, but it also shows its light.  Sometimes the jokes can be silly, but this is a quality serious dramatic movie deep down that just happens to involve people in high school. Also of note is the soundtrack, which has some classic tunes from David Bowie and others.  Charlie may get confused, and so does the movie too in certain middle section when he switches romantic interests with the “unique” Mary Elizabeth instead of Sam. But by the end everything comes back around and is wrapped up nicely. I laughed and I cried. I feel Logan Lerman deserves recognition for what he did in this movie, because the way he does it made me care about everything that happens to Charlie.  This film may be too much of a clash of teens and drama for some, but it is a solid film. 8 out of 10

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