Based on Stephen Chebosky’s bestselling novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a heart-warming comedy that sees new kid at school, Charlie (Logan Lerman) deal with his traumatic past in this coming of age drama.
Nervous and awkward Charlie starts high school after his best friend’s suicide, immediately falling into the wallflower confines as the film embraces the harsh realities of high school. Picked out as a fellow kindred spirit, he is soon saved by the quirky cool, music loving duo Patrick (Ezra Miller) and step sister Sam (Emma Watson), as they defy the cliques of high school and embark on a journey in their own personal “island of misfit”.
You would be right in thinking the film follows the typical American high school drama; the jock gets the girl, the nice guy gets punched and everyone in-between gets bullied. However, like Cheboksy’s book the film manages to steer away from American cheese as much as humanly possible. Its modern humour makes it completely relatable and not at all painfully cliché.
This refreshingly genuine take on the teenage years brings credit back to the genre as Chebosky’s beloved book translates just as well on screen. A journey takes place as Sam and Patrick teach Charlie to let go of the blame that threatens him from the horrors of his past and he in return teaches them to accept themselves and learn to love who they are. This trio is far from the Harry Potter heroes but just as endearing, as they embark on their own battle with breaking the conformities of society.
Emma Watson sheds her bookish image as the infamous heroine Hermione Granger, as she shines in her portrayal of Sam which sees her transform into an indie, free spirit set to defy the social structures of teenage life. She establishes her status as an actress with a surprisingly convincing American accent and steals the screen with her incredibly likeable and appealing outlook on life.
Lerman offers a brilliant performance at the centre of the film; his awkward innocence is endearing as he proves a comic yet disturbed character who struggles to deal with the ghosts of his past and his high school affections. This baby-faced actor was a perfect choice as his vulnerability heightens the thrilling horrors of his childhood, whilst he captures the dark and the light of Charlie’s unpredictable nature.
Lerman’s and Watson’s performances tend to overshadow Miller at times but when allocated his own screen time he plays the camp and outspoken homosexual without the annoying exaggeration that Glee would be proud to claim.
In Chebosky’s beautifully observant style, Perks captures the dizzying drama of growing up, showing true friendship in its rawest form. A comic and liberating drama, set to tug on the heart strings as you’re enchanted by the infectious liberality of its cast and the dark undertones of its characters.