Saturday, May 4, 2013

Film Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Dear Logan Lerman,

I am sorry I misjudged you based on your part in the miserably disappointing adaptation of The Lightning Thief.  You can't be blamed for the fact that filmmakers butchered one of my son's and my favorite read louds, and usually one's acting ability can only shine in porportion to the quality of the role, script, and direction.

Apparently you had tremendous hidden talent that is now ... well ... no longer hidden. You're an exceptionally gifted young actor. I look forward to seeing your career blossom.

This screen adaptation of Stephen Chbosky's well-loved epistolary novel, which I haven't read, looks at Charlie (Logan Lerman), a gifted high school freshman and aspiring writer, struggling against painful memories and pressure from peers to be mediocre. He connects with resident smart-ass Patrick (Ezra Miller -- nice to see him without a crossbow) and Patrick's beautiful stepsister Sam (Emma Watson), seniors who help him navigate the social scene. Paradoxically, he becomes the rock upon whom they rely during upheavals in their lives.

Based on reviews of this novel and film, I'd expected to like this movie. After all, "coming of age" stories have broad appeal. I suspect it's because we're all "coming of age," in one way or another, throughout our lives. At what point do we feel we've well and truly "grown up?" :-) But The Perks of Being a Wallflower it still surprised me; I didn't expect to find it so moving.

 I graduated during the Reagan era, so I don't know whether this portrayal of American high school life in the 90s is realistic. However, I felt the way it captured the experience of adolescence was dead on. The sense of feeling trapped, with years to wait before your life seems truly your own. The intensity of youthful friendships and the wonderful agony of falling in love for the first time. The fear, anger, and loneliness, the intense yearning, and the moments of sheer, reckless, intrepid joy.  

The film manages to sidestep being too "cool" or trite, which seems a clear and present danger in a movie about a guy coming of age with his quirky friends. :-) Excellent writing, strong direction, and outstanding performances by the three young leads make this movie engrossing, moving, and real. (I actually cried during the whole Patrick/Brad thing. Damn. :-( )

The Perks of Being a Wallflower looks at the fact that, sadly, many -- if not most -- people are already painfully damaged by the time they "come of age." By the time they become teenagers, they've learned to hide their vulnerabilities behind masks, through those masks are often heartbreakingly transparent. As adolescents, they have the task of discovering what they're passionate about -- whether it be music, literature, film, or something else -- and using that, along with the fragile, tangled web of their friendships and family bonds, to help them survive and flourish.

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars; suggested for adults and mature teens (about age 15+)


  1. Glad you liked it so much! Made my top 10 of last year. The performances were indeed excellent, and definitely a good depiction of the high school experience-and it got me thinking about my own highschool years.

    ps Look forward to your review of The Glass Castle, I was considering reading it, because of the praise I've seen for it.

  2. I liked this too. Ezra Miller was fantastic, I was hoping he'd be the dark horse Oscar nom for Best Supporting Actor.

  3. Cool review, this movie deserves all the praise it can get. It was my second or third favourite of last year, really really loved it.

  4. Ahah, too funny Steph. I thought Logan Lerman was quite good in 3:10 To Yuma but he was terrible in The Three Musketeers (well the script was bad so it wasn't his fault). I still need to see this movie!

  5. Thrilled you liked it so much. Same rating for me. Glad you're sold on Lerman's acting chops as well. I was *this* close to nominating him for Best Actor.

  6. I enjoyed the book, but haven't had the chance to see the movie yet. I will definitely find time for it!

  7. I'm glad you liked it! I rewatched it recently and loved it just as much as the first time. The acting is great, and the feelings portrayed seem so realistic. I'd also recommend the book, although I must say the film doesn't let it down at all!


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