Perks of Being a Wallflower, The (2012)
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Cast: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Erza Miller
Plot: An introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world.
Genre: Drama / Romance
Rating: NC16 for mature thematic material, drug and alcohol use, sexual content including references, and a fight - all involving teens.
“Right now we are alive and in this moment I swear we are infinite.”
This is no ordinary book-to-film adaptation. This is indeed something special. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is quite simply the best coming-of-age film you will see this year.
Written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, who also wrote the well-liked novel of the same name, this tremendously enjoyable picture is an excellent feature debut, a film that aptly captures the fleeting moments of youth, of those freewheeling days in high school where emotions are best described as a rollercoaster ride.
It draws up these emotions like an oil well about to burst into flames, sparking a nostalgic return of one's inner self to the heady old days of those teenage years. Of course the Americans had it more fun than us (well they had their Rocky Horror Picture Show, what do we have?), but that doesn't mean we can't revel in their joy and sadness.
Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller head the cast, playing high school students Charlie, Sam, and Patrick respectively. Charlie is a freshmen, socially awkward and severely introverted. He finds two hip friends in Sam and Patrick, who are siblings, and they bring him aboard their rollercoaster.
The entire film is told from Charlie's perspective, not only of his experience with his 'wallflower' mates, but also the guilt and sorrow that continues to haunt him after a traumatic childhood incident.
It is this marriage of the social circle and psychology of one teenager who is trying to find his feet in life that makes Chbosky's film a much deeper exploration of the trials and tribulations of teenhood than any other film of recent memory.
The film feels like a dreamy experience. Its cinematography is no frills, at times the framing of actors feels flat. But artificial lights are captured with some sort of warm glow giving the film a nostalgic 90s feel. The selection of mostly old songs enhances that feel. This is a blast back to the not-so-distant past, yet the film situates itself in a new generation of faces, marked by the familiarity of contemporary popular culture.
Watson lets her hair down in a decent but not particularly excellent performance in a post-Potter film. All eyes are on her, including a tantalizing scene where she locks lips with Lerman. Hermoine and Percy Jackson anyone? The most captivating performance comes from Miller, who channels energy and gayness in a difficult role.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is heartfelt filmmaking; it is a film done out of the passion to recapture the meaning of youth. Yes, there are ups and downs, and then there's infinity. As Lerman proclaims in the film, "We are infinite!", it is a moment for all who were young before to reflectively cherish and indulge.
Verdict: Very well-written, this solid coming-of-age drama is so warm and earnest that it reaches into your heart, and almost always makes you smile and tear up at the same time.
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