Arts and Entertainment
There Are Many Perks In This Wallflower
Having not read the book and only seen the trailers, I assumed The Perks of Being a Wallflower would be a standard affair of teen angst. In some ways it is, but in more ways it’s not.
It exhibits the rudimentary issues of bullying, open homosexuality, being labeled an outcast, etcetera, but paints them in an exceptionally realistic and daring manner that many films before it have failed to do.
Perks follows an introvert teen in the early 1990s named Charlie (Logan Lerman) during his high school freshman year. He’s a kid who seems to rather have his head in a good book than in a good conversation. Prior to entering high school, tragedy befell his best friend, which caused an adverse effect on his emotional state. One look at him and it’s easy to see that he’s uncomfortable in his own skin.
He finds solace in two upperclassmen—Sam (Emma Watson) and step-brother Patrick (Ezra Miller)—who are the complete opposite of himself socially, but share their own burden of problems. In a way, Charlie is an ironic character because he’s not really labeled an outcast by the surrounding community; he’s labeled himself as such. As Sam and Patrick say, he’s what you would call a ‘wallflower’: a person that has no one to dance with or is shy. This is something that is expressed literally in a scene where Charlie stands alone at a school dance.
The lovely Sam and eccentric Patrick immediately take a liking to this wallflower. He joins them at football games, nightly meet-ups at the local diner, and attends his very first party where he experiences the bliss of smoking marijuana for the first time. You could say that Charlie hit the freshman jackpot in befriending two seniors.
I don’t want to spoil the little secrets that lie behind the eyes of each character, but Chbosky handles their respective situations with such authenticity that it’ll hit you right in the heart even if you can’t relate. The movie largely succeeds in this area thanks to the outstanding cast.
For a role that doesn’t require much talking, Logan Lerman surprisingly pulls it off without the aid of any physical tics and instead communicates the performance through his eyes. He’s a wonderfully-gifted young actor that makes up for his lack of a commanding presence with sheer likeability.
A worriment amongst actors that have been a part of franchises is the very real possibility of being forever typecast. Emma Watson’s sincere performance makes you forget that you’re watching Hermione Granger. She’s played the same character for over 10 years, so it’s nice to see what she can do outside of the wizarding world.
The biggest standout in the movie, however, is Ezra Miller. Miller is an enormous talent who will undoubtedly get a Best Actor nod sometime in the future—take my word for it. His acting chops are best showcased in a scene where he recreates a number from The Rocky Horror Picture Show as Dr. Frank-N-Furter.
Aside from the great screenplay and fantastic cast, one of my absolute favorite things about Perks is the soundtrack. David Bowie is one of my favorite musicians of all time and “Heroes” ranks as one of my favorite songs of all time. I can’t recall the last time a song so perfectly captured the essence of a movie.
Consider the following lines: “Though nothing, nothing will keep us together / We can beat them, for ever and ever / Oh we can be heroes, just for one day.” With Charlie’s two closest friends being seniors, he’s faced with the unavoidable reality of them graduating and going off to college.
In the context of the movie, those lines speak about the impossibility of him rising above the given circumstances. They won’t be together, but their friendship will remain infinite.
I expected to like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but now having seen it, I didn’t expect to love it. I sincerely hope that this film finds some kind of audience because it deserves it. It’s one of my favorite films of the year and I can’t help but think it’ll be yours too.
The Perks of Being A Wallflower—Rated PG-13—Release Date: Oct. 5—written and directed by Stephen Chbosky—starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller—102 minutes
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