Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Genre: Drama, Romance
Run Time: 1 hour 43 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Dylan McDermott, Kate Walsh
Written & Directed by Stephen Chbosky, based on his novel (feature-film debut)
It is nearly unheard of for an author to adapt his own work for the big screen, and then direct the film as well. Stephen Chbosky pulls this feat off with The Perks of Being a Wallflower, based on his 1999 novel. And who better to handle the material than the person who originated it?
I, for one, am in favor of this trend if the films turn out as to have as much impact, as The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Simply stated, it is among this year’s best films.
Charlie (Logan Lerman, in a break-out performance) is a troubled teen, an incoming freshman who is shy, introverted and unpopular. He meets and befriends two seniors, played by Ezra Miller (City Island, We Need To Talk About Kevin) and Emma Watson (Hermione from the Harry Potter films), and the three fight to establish themselves as growing adults.
So is this just another film about a shy kid in high school? On its surface, yes. But Perks quickly evolves into an acutely powerful character study. Charlie is coping with the loss of a friend who committed suicide months before, not to mention some deeply tragic emotional baggage stemming from the loss of his Aunt Helen (Melanie Lynskey) when he was a boy. Here is a boy – a young man – who has already matured emotionally beyond the walls of high school. As he grows up with the help of his friends, he fights the shackles that his past has clamped on him.
Layer by layer, Perks unfolds into a complex and comprehensive tale about growing up. It’s rarely been done better.
The best films – in my humble opinion – are those that connect on many different levels with the audience. Perkscontains that intangible magic, the stuff that great movies are made of. Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller and Emma Watson give intense, vulnerable performances matched with great supporting players like Paul Rudd as a school teacher who takes a liking to Charlie, and Dylan McDermott and Kate Walsh as “Father” and “Mother.” The film is painstakingly accurate in being told from Charlie’s point-of-view – as the book was – that we never know these characters as anything but mom and dad.
You might want to check your pulse if you are not moved by the themes and characters in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It is touching, funny, sad, inspirational and moving. It’s a mix of everything really. Sort of like life.
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