It ain’t easy being 14
Published: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Film: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Release Date: Oct 12
Studio: Summit Entertainment
The Perks of Being a Wallflower could reflect the life of anybody. Surviving in the vast, dramatic high school universe is laborious on any mind – whether you’re a spastic underachiever, an undervalued Goth, an ethical English teacher, a popular jock who’s still in the closet or an introverted wallflower.
This film supremely grasps and exploits these concepts, encompassing the struggles of several lives during an entire school year. The drama is persuasive, effective and inspired by real-life events from writer/director Stephen Chbosky’s (Jericho)teenage years, whowrote the original best-selling novel in 1999. Chbosky wrote his characters with underlined realism, which means he likely knew people like this growing up.
Charlie (Logan Lerman, The Three Musketeers) is the adolescent wallflower and for suitable reasons. He destructively relives the demise of his Aunt Helen (Melanie Lynskey, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World) and has also recently lost his best friend to suicide. Charlie estranges himself in class, at ball games and at his school dance; he surveys his classmates in accepted solitude and doesn’t foresee change, nor does he initially want it.
Against his better judgment, Charlie befriends – or is befriended by – two fellow outcasts who choose their alienated status for different reasons than Charlie. They are Patrick (Ezra Miller, We Need to Talk About Kevin) and Sam (Emma Watson, My Week With Marilyn), both seniors who first appear as lovers, but are actually stepsiblings. They could not be more independent thinkers, outlawing themselves from the mainstream crowd.
“Welcome to the island of misfit toys,” Sam tells Charlie at their group’s party.
Patrick is a flamboyantly gay crackpot who jesters at anyone he can, particularly his woodshop instructor. Sam is an angelic free spirit who’s finally recovering from a lost childhood. Charlie falls for Sam and helps her study for the SATs in hopes she can be admitted to Penn State and even records a mixtape of her favorite music. But Charlie cannot dominate his wallflower status and accepts his place on the sidelines.
Also in the group is the gothic Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman, Secret of the Wings), who secretly crushes on Charlie, and the school’s quarterback Brad (Johnny Simmons, 21 Jump Street). Charlie cannot comprehend why a divine jock like Brad would hangout with such a group.
“But, isn’t Brad a popular kid?” he asks.
“Then what are we?” Mary Elizabeth retorts.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower isn’t so much the coming-of-age tale of its adolescent protagonist as it is a demonstration of self-rejuvenation for everyone involved. High school is normally the period when this happens. He successfully avoids the generics in most high school movies and delves into down-to-Earth issues that are relatable to most people.
Although it’s widely accepted that college years contain more experimentation and self-defining for students, the contrast between freshmen and senior year of high school is indisputable. Consider Charlie, who begins high school lost in a dreary maze and eventually ends up befriending two extremely open-minded people.
Lerman is confident in acting an unconfident role, serving as a likeable and relatable lead. Miller goes all out playing Patrick, nearly resembling his similarly psychopathic role in We Need to Talk About Kevin.
And Watson, in her own coming-of-age acting job after the Harry Potter franchise, delivers a spellbinding performance. This is her best work yet, and she might receive her first invitation from the Academy.
It’s rare for an author to direct his own work on the big screen, but Chbosky didn’t seem to mind. He knows his characters’ feelings inside and out, and proves that in both his writing and direction. If he was a wallflower his freshmen year, he has certainly come a long way, just like Charlie has.