I can’t even imagine how many films have been made about the journey of the teenage years. A whole lot of forgettable ones, but many great ones as well. The many films of John Hughes come to mind, American Graffiti, The Outsiders, the infuriating film Kids, The Virgin Suicides, Mean Girls, Brick, Superbad, and Easy A just to name a few of this writers faves. One of the most recent additions to the genre is Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a quiet and naïve 15 year old freshman in a high school. Charlie is dealing with a lot of personal issues including the suicide of a friend the year before and the tragic death of a favorite aunt when he was small. A loner and an outsider, Charlie is befriended by two seniors that take a shine to him. Patrick (Ezra Miller) is an outgoing and unique person with a boisterous personality and Sam (Emma Watson) is his step sister with whom he has a very close relationship. Both Patrick and Sam are outsiders themselves and Charlie feels a kinship to them as they take him in and make him feel noticed for the first time in his life. Charlie must navigate all the bumps of high school life including crushes, drugs, relationships, and developing his own self-worth.
I am not sure exactly what it was about The Perks of Being a Wallflower that endeared it to me, but man did it. It could be the connection that I was quite an outsider myself in high school, and it may be the writing. It may be the fantastic performances by Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller and Emma Watson, who were thoroughly convincing as best friends. And it may have been writer/director Stephen Chbosky’s genuine approach to the story. Everything about Perks felt real to me and from watching the special features, it looks like it felt real to everyone involved in making it as well. All of the relationships felt authentic to me and the story of Charlie’s journey was absorbing and compelling. I think anyone who has ever had a tough time as a teenage (see: everyone) can relate to this film. And as far as the stellar acting goes, Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller really need to be cast in a lot more movies, they are all exceptional actors that are at their best here. Miller in particular has just blown me away in this and in last year’s We Need to Talk About Kevin. This is a guy to keep our eyes on.
Available February 12, 2013 on Blu-ray and DVD.