Turn off the Lights

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Review

John's Rating: 8.5/10 Player Affinity Composite Rating: 8.3/10 (3 reviews total)   The Perks of Being a Wallflower is, at its worst, the best episode of Glee ever. No, there aren't any musical numbers — though music itself does play an important part throughout the film — but the boyfriend/girlfriend (and boyfriend/boyfriend) drama is a little much. And the film's message of acceptance is so sweet and gooey that it's almost sickening. At its best, however, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of the year's most earnest and endearing motion pictures with just the right amount of nostalgia and a star-making, Oscar-worthy performance from leading man Logan Lerman. The film is based on a very popular novel of the same name written by Stephen Chbosky, who also wrote and directed its screen adaptation. Lerman plays Charlie, a soon-to-be high school freshman who is withdrawn and friendless after a series of tragedies and subsequent mental breakdowns. He's a good kid, by and large, who finds peace in writing, but even before his first day of high school, he's counting down the days until his graduation. And predictably, school is rough. He actually makes a friend on his first day, but sadly, it's his English teacher, Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd). Before long, however, Charlie bonds with Patrick (Ezra Miller) and his step-sister, Sam (Emma Watson). Both are seniors: the former is homosexual and having a secret love affair with a very popular jock, while the latter struggles to quell rumors about a promiscuous past. Patrick and Sam happily adopt Charlie into their group of outcasts — the "island of misfit toys" — and Charlie is thriving like never before. But he longs for Sam, so intensely, so secretly. His timidness and indecision hold him back to a degree, but time isn't on his side. Sam, Patrick, and the rest of the gang are graduating and moving away for college, and when they do, dark days will be upon Charlie once again. Because The Perks of Being a Wallflower is telling such a familiar story, it's needs a special element to make it feel necessary and relevant. This film actually has several, but the biggest, and most pleasantly surprising, is Lerman's performance. Charlie has a very natural, sort of dorky charm, and you see him struggle with it over the course of the entire film. He's a kid who just doesn't really know how to act around others who are all much more confident than he is. Charlie is incredibly relatable. If you weren't a Charlie yourself, you definitely knew one and perhaps you still do. As the film moves along toward a surprising and surprisingly dramatic final act, Lerman gets a chance to really emote and show his stuff. There's not a moment when the young man looks to be in over his head. It's marvelous work and, hopefully, a sign of more great things to come for the kid otherwise known as Percy Jackson. This final act turn is another reason The Perks of Being a Wallflower rises above its genre and the associated clichés. Its in this material that we realize how important Chbosky's touch is to the film as a whole. There's a somewhat bewildering series of flashbacks that runs throughout the film and only pays off late. Chbosky keeps his cards close to his chest until the river when he flips over a full house. His somewhat generic direction is instantly replaced by a bold, unique style of visual storytelling. His cuts become quicker; his musical cues become more intense and emotional. If you're with The Perks of Being a Wallflower early, you'll really admire what Chbosky does after halftime. Although Lerman is easily the acting standout, the rest of the cast is aces as well. Miller has the showiest role, and appropriately, he steals many scenes. Gone is Watson's British accent and Hermione Granger-esque bushy hair. She's alluring, damaged, and most importantly, the impetus Charlie needs to come out of his shell. Because The Perks of Being a Wallflower is telling a universal, timeless story about love and believing in oneself, audiences of all ages should find something to enjoy. Even if you ultimately feel it's heavy-handed or too on-the-nose, it still features moments of laugh-out-loud humor that lighten the mood considerably. It's just a film that knows itself well and manages to hit all the right notes, as a result. Rating: 8.5/10 Steven thought: "In the fall, it's easy for a film like this to get lost among the Oscar contenders, so let the word get through the grapevine that The Perks of Being a Wallflower should find universal love and apprecation from all kinds of audiences. Anchored by incredibly strong performances from Lerman, Watson and especially Miller, this coming-of-age drama is deeply poignant. While the dangers of a writer adapting and directing his own work are obvious, Chbosky keeps the focus on his young talents and really captures each and every emotion in his story. Anyone who has ever felt lonely will connect with this story, and that's an overwhelming majority of us. It doesn't break any new ground, but Wallflower evokes such palpable nostalgia and feelings that it should be hailed an unquestionably good film." Rating: 8/10 Ethan thought: "High-school movies tend to fall into three distinct categories: the blatantly commercial (Fun Size, I Love You Beth Cooper), the self-consciously precocious (Rushmore, Thumbsucker, any John Hughes film), or the flat-out depressing (Elephant). Stephen Chbosky’s adaptation of his own novel admirably shoots for something else: an honest depiction of the tumultuous emotional jumble of adolescence. What could’ve been an overly simple, overbearing film about the power of friendship is much more complicated than that — for teens especially. Friends can cause as many problems as they solve. While at times it lays on the drama a little too thick, Wallflower stays light on its feet thanks to a good sense of humor and some sterling acting from young Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller." Rating: 8.5/10


Meet the Author

Follow Us