¨We accept the love we think we deserve.¨
This was truly a wonderful and beautiful film. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of those rare teen movies that feels honest and authentic. We`ve seen similar stories told in other movies, but not in the same way that Stephen Chbosky tells it here with such a natural flow. This is Chbosky`s first major film as a director and he does a brilliant job by giving us a heartfelt authentic teen drama with some very funny moments and a romantic love story. This film is based on Chbosky`s novel which he also adapted for the movie, and his passion and love for this project really comes through in the film. I don’t know if it could have worked as well as it did if it weren’t for the three leading performances from Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson), Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin), and Emma Watson (Harry Potter). They were perfectly cast in their roles and they had such great chemistry together. This film made me even more excited for Aronofsky`s next movie, Noah, considering that Emma Watson and Logan Lerman were both cast in it. Watson and Lerman share some unique and emotional moments together on screen, but the true star of the film was Ezra Miller who delivered a very powerful performance as Patrick. His role was very different from the one in We Need to Talk About Kevin, and he was just so amazing. The film isn’t afraid to tackle dark subject matters such as homosexuality, mental illness, and child abuse, but Chbosky manages to tackle these issues in an honest way while mixing these dark moments with some humor. Ezra Miller really facilitates those transitions with his performance. The Perks of Being a Wallflower reminded me of some other indie teen films that I liked such as The Art of Getting By and It`s Kind of a Funny Story, but it also has a sort of late 80`s vibe to it that reminded me a lot of Dead Poets Society (one of my all time favorites).
The film takes place during the 90`s in Pittsburgh where we are introduced to Charlie (Logan Lerman) who is about to begin his freshman year in High School. His best friend killed himself a few months ago and he is going through some sort of mental illness as he experiences black outs and has flashbacks of his Aunt who passed away when he was little. He is quiet and nervous about his first day in school and finds it difficult to make new friends, but when he meets Patrick (Ezra Miller), an outgoing and friendly senior, his life changes completely. Patrick introduces him to his stepsister, Sam (Emma Watson), and the rest of his friends who call themselves The Wallflowers. In his first party with them he accidently gets stoned after eating a brownie and everyone becomes amused with him and his honest remarks. Charlie feels accepted and begins to enjoy spending time with the group, especially with Sam. Sam begins dating a college boy, and Charlie ends up forcefully dating Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman) since he is too nice to say no. Charlie dreams of becoming a writer and he really enjoys his classes with his English teacher Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd) who sees a lot of potential in him. Despite being very smart, Charlie has trouble communicating his feelings to others, and after experiencing a setback with his friends he begins to suffer more black outs. The question remains whether or not he will find the courage to express his feelings towards Sam before the year is over, and if he can unlock the secrets from his past that he is restraining.
There are several things that reminded me of Dead Poets Society although this film doesn’t focus as much with students bonding with their professor, Lerman does share some interesting scenes with Rudd, the professor. Lerman reminded me of the young and introvert Ethan Hawke, while there is also the issue of one of the students fearing what his father might think about him. Ezra Miller is sort of the Robert Sean Leonard character, although the fears he faces with his father are manifested in his boyfriend and not him, but he does have that sort of outgoing personality and also acts in a play honoring the Rocky Horror Picture Show. The Wallflowers do have some similarities with the Dead Poets Society, but this film does have a much more romantic side thanks to the chemistry between Lerman and Watson. We all saw how Emma Watson grew in the Harry Potter franchise, but here she delivers her best performance to date. I already had liked her in her small role in My Week with Marilyn, and here she gives a believable performance as an American girl. Her accent was just perfect and I really loved her performance. Lerman and Miller also have a great future ahead of them and they proved their talent here in this film. There are also some smaller performances from known faces such as Dylan McDermott and Kate Walsh who play Charlie`s parents and Melanie Lynskey his aunt. Joan Cusack plays a doctor and Johnny Simmons is Miller`s love interest. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is really a well crafted film worth checking out as one of the best teen movies of the year.