Today: April 15, 2024

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

– By Matt Isard – Gone are the days of vacant teenage movies.

By Matt Isard

Gone are the days of vacant teenage movies. Much like the comic book genre, the high school drama can no
longer be all about finding a great date for prom or simply being unpopular.
Now teen movies need to have a bit of wit and darkness about them. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower very
successfully follows this mature trend.

from the late ‘90s novel of the same name by Stephen Chbosky, who also wrote the screenplay and directed the
feature, the story follows a quiet boy called Charlie (Logan Lerman) as he completes his year at high school and the
life-changing friendships he forms with the more popular Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller). During the year Charlie
goes through many phases we associate with being an awkward teenager; not fitting
in, being bullied, falling in love, discovering yourself. But, on top of all this,
the film tackles heavier content such as homosexuality, drugs and suicide. This
heavy subject matter is handled with a compassionate touch that allows the audience
to be moved by the situation without beating them over the head with how tragic
it is. The film also doesn’t reveal everything all at once, instead retaining some
mystery and audiences are left guessing right up until the end.

with other films in this genre, The Perks of Being a Wallflower will fly or
fall on the backs of the main cast. Fortunately, this main cast is exceptional.
Audiences will become emotionally invested in all three lead characters. Logan Lerman
is instantly likable as Charlie who may be socially awkward but has a kind
heart, an enquiring mind, and emotional maturity well beyond his years, portraying
him with incredible vulnerability but giving him an edge; he’s always just a
little bit away from snapping.

As the
other male lead, Patrick, Ezra Miller
swaps the quiet control he used to play the title character in We Need To Talk About Kevin for something
more anarchic, more comic. With his bitchy put-downs and flamboyant nature, Patrick
is very much the comedic relief, a role Miller pulls off with ease. Particularly
refreshing in a film about adolescence is the film’s treatment of Patrick’s homosexuality
and while the still difficult issues revolving around being gay in a small community
are touched on, Miller is able to switch between the lighter and heavier
moments seamlessly.

the actor with the most to prove however is female lead Emma Watson, of Harry Potter fame, who plays Sam,
Patrick’s stepsister and Charlie’s love interest. Not always considered worth the large sums the Potter franchise
has paid her, like her Harry Potter co-stars, she likely chose this role to
prove she can do more than just wave a wand. She made the right choice and shines as Sam, her outward confidence
masking the fragile little girl on the inside. Watson balances the two
perfectly bringing depth to what could have just been the love interest and proving
she’s more than just the prettiest girl in the school. Sam’s brokenness is what
attracts Charlie to her and is what attracts the audience’s affection. Watson
also shows great chemistry with both Miller and Lerman, far more chemistry than
she showed with her male leads in Harry Potter.

plays a vital part in Charlie’s teenage awakening, so along with a great cast the
film boasts an exceptional soundtrack. Set in the early ‘90s the film makes
references to Rocky Horror, David Bowie, The Smiths, and many other indie bands of the time. It may not be the
most upbeat of soundtracks but whose teenage music collection was and writer/director
Chbosky handpicked each track to add extra emotion to the story.

is not just any old ‘teen getting through high school’ film but one that has
real heart and depth to it. In the same way Easy A made teen films more witty, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
makes them deeper.

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