I had the chance to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower a few months ago, and the whole group of people I was with were in tears at the end. If you haven’t read the novel by Stephen Chbosky, and have only seen the trailers for this film, you will not be expecting where it goes and how it hits you. A huge part of why it works so well is because it’s just so relatable – I’m sure that most people have had a time in their life when they felt incredibly awkward and isolated. It really hits home how difficult it is to make friends if you don’t know anyone else, and you aren’t an outgoing person.
The film follows Charlie (Logan Lerman), an introverted freshman, as he starts his first year at high school. He’s dealing with some deeply rooted issues, has trouble making friends, and you are right there with him as he has to work up all the strength he has to try to befriend Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller). The movie deals with serious issues like sexual abuse, domestic abuse, bullying, homophobia, and many others.
If you are like the majority of audiences, and have only seen Logan Lerman in ‘Percy Jackson,’ then you were probably surprised to find out he had been cast as this painfully awkward wallflower character. The director and author, Stephen Chbosky, actually shared that opinion originally and pictured Logan as Patrick. However, he hits it out of the park! His performance is so believable, and moving, and he really brings Charlie from the book to life. Every aspect of his performance, from his voice, to his physicality, to the look in his eyes when he struggles to introduce himself to Sam and Patrick at the dance, are just so Charlie. Ezra Miller steals the show in every scene he’s in, he really is believable as the eccentric, lovable friend that takes Charlie under his wing. He also handles the darker parts of Patrick’s character very well, and is just…an amazing actor! The person that everyone has their eye on is Emma Watson in this new role, Sam. She had to put on an American accent, and she was playing a teenager from a culture that she did not grow up in, which I’m sure was a challenge for her. Sam isn’t a very good student, and is the opposite of “straight-edge,” which means…the opposite of Hermione! Although there were times that mistakes in her accent drew attention to the fact that she actually was acting, which is never a good thing, I thought she did a great job as Sam. Especially in the highly-anticipated scene where Sam decides to be Charlie’s first kiss, because she wants the first person to kiss him to really, truly care about him. You really believe their relationship; that Sam loves Charlie. There was a lot of pressure on her to do well, and I think she pulled it off magnificently. In my opinion, there was no trace of Hermione in her performance!
The film has a very quirky vibe and totally takes the fact that it is set in the 90’s and runs with it. The fashion, music, and way the teenagers speak to each-other is all very 90’s! It really makes you think how much life has changed since then, and it hasn’t even been that long. There were no iPods, and even CD’s weren’t a thing yet, so kids passed around mix-tapes. Also, the dawn of the Internet takeover hadn’t happened yet, so there was no Facebook or MySpace. Kids even listened to records, and Sam says that music sounds “so much better on vinyl!” Charlie is introduced to the cult-following of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, where Sam and Patrick are involved with a reenactment of the film on Friday nights.
Overall, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a fantastic movie for teenagers, and adults. Teenagers will feel right at home with Charlie’s character, and it will bring back floods of memories for adults – and don’t forget to bring your tissues. Just you wait until the final, most anticipated scene in the tunnel…you’ll need them.