Film Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a Nostalgia Trip
October 4, 2012 - By JP Spence
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" goes back to when slackers werent cool.
Maybe its a sign of age but its funny see actors in a film during grunges heyday when the actors themselves were in diapers instead of flannel. Nevertheless, Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra are more than game in channeling the spirit of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Adapted from the novel written by Stephen Chbosky, it helps that the author had a hand in the film as writer/director. Charlie (Lerman) is a more awkward than awkward freshman whose only friend is his English teacher. Then again, if Paul Rudd was my English teacher, thatd be the only friend youd need. As Charlie and his gay stepbrother, Patrick, navigate high school, Samantha (Emma Watson) joins their ranks as the trio further examines the process of trial and error. While some of the plot reads par for the course for a young adult novel (which was the source material), the raw emotion is what carries the film and makes it a polar opposite of after-school special.
Lermans performance is subtle and nuanced, proving that playing adroit is more than simply not smiling. Unfortunately, playing straight man to Ezra Millers charismatic Patrick is more a labor of love than breakout role. Miller is simply lights-out as he puts on a clinic on how to play gay on screen without falling into complete cliché. Watson, for her first meaty role outside of Harry Potter, is a missed opportunity. The actress has no problem playing dream girl to Charlies imagination but when it comes to emotional center, its more preening that palpable.
Chbosky, as expected, does a great job translating his novel to screen. The commentary on drug use, mental illness, sexual identity and trauma at adolescence is on point and while the setting is Gen X, the struggles of growing up then are still applicable to Millenials today.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a wonderful, genuine look at the pains of growing up that is devoid of falsity or pretense.