In 1999 Stephen Chbosky had his novel “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” published by MTV and 13 years later he’s committed it to celluloid. It concerns Charlie and the friends he makes in his first year of high school. Funny, touching and at times heartbreaking it manages to be one of the best teen angst/coming of age films in years.
I haven’t read the novel but have it on good authority that it’s a bit of a modern classic and so who better than the writer to get behind the camera. Chbosky has done a fantastic job with the help of a superb cast in presenting the story of Charlie’s (Logan Lerman) experience of high school, his attempt to come to terms with his best friends suicide from the year before and the new friends he makes – namely Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson).
People will be familiar with Ezra from last year’s superb We Need to Talk About Kevin and once again he turns in a scene-stealing turn as Patrick the senior outsider and brother-in-law of Sam. Channeling Christian Slater’s better teen roles, he’s slick, endearing and has more than a hint of mischief in his eyes. Emma Watson was in the little seen Harry Potter film series and it’s good that she hasn’t gone completely in the opposite direction trying to cast off her kiddy mantle. She holds her own and will be an actress of note if she can continue to pick roles of this calibre. Logan must run the whole gamut of teenage emotions and his depiction of mental illness and its ramifications is heartbreaking.
Now the film isn’t without its faults but they are few and for me only lie in some of the dialogue. A scattering of lines stick in the throat but don’t try and pretend you haven’t uttered some deeply profound theories on life, the universe and everything. Paul Rudd as Charlie’s English teacher gives the film a Dead Poet’s Society tone and most of the supporting cast are great and despite not having too much to do, they still make their mark. Notably Dylan McDermott as Charlie’s Dad and Melanie Lynskey (“Two and a Half Men”) as Aunt Helen. Joan Cusack even makes an appearance to keep the 80’s teen fans happy.
I’ve read, well skimmed over, a few reviews of this in various other regarded media sources and they are pretty negative, jaded affairs from older men. This film will not appeal to everyone, but with all films you should go in with an open mind and try to immerse yourself in the world presented to you. Cast off your negativity and ignore whatever mood you are in when going to a piece you intend to review. This is easier said than done but I feel the reviews I skimmed have failed miserably in this regard. I made reference to the fact it was men that did the reviews as I feel this a contributing factor. Perks is a film full of teen angst, awkward interactions and the fragility of life-defining relationships which we’ve all gone through but can try to cast off in later years with a superior sniffy attitude. You can see I loved the film and if you’re of the same ilk hopefully you can go in with an open mind and embrace it wholeheartedly. I can imagine teens coming across this and feeling that they aren’t alone and recognising that someone has gone and made a film about their life, as all great films should.
A film that will enter the annals of teen coming of age dramas alongside the big hitters of The Breakfast Club, Say Anything, Heathers and Pump up the Volume. A must.
USA / Directed By: Stephen Chbosky / Written By: Stephen Chbosky / Starring: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller / 103min / Drama, Romance / Release: 28 September 2012 (US/Canada), 3 October 2012 (UK/Ireland)