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Jun 28, 2013

Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

           Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Nina Dobrev, Mae Whitman, Paul Rudd, Kate Walsh, Dylan McDermott, Melanie Lynskey, Johnny Simmons, Reece Thompson, Brian Balzerini, Nicholas Braun, Joan Cusack, Adam Hagenbuch, Erin Wilhelmi and Tom Savini


                   Stephen Chbosky


                 There are times when a certain movie is great not because its flawless or very artistic in its representation but just because of the fact that the filmmaker approaches its subject with all its heart and soul. Stephen Chbosky is the director of this movie and he opted to adapt his own bestselling 1999 book of the same name. In many ways, that decision turned out to be quite in the favor for the movie. This is a teen high school dramedy, the best one of its kind and deserves to be mentioned among the best of its genre. The Perks of Being a Wallflower tells the story of Charlie (Lerman) who is about to start his high school years and is very nervous about it. He has always been very shy, reserved and feels difficulty in making friends. This new life seems to be isolating him more and more but he doesn't let his parents know about this problems. He eventually befriends two seniors, Patrick (Miller) and his stepsister, Sam (Watson). They get along quite well and doesn't seems to be like the typical seniors who would rather bully a new student than to take him to restaurant or dance with them at a high school dance. Its a very beautiful scene when Patrick and Sam are dancing to Dexy's Midnight Runner's "Come on Eileen!" and they call Charlie to join them in the fun as well. We get to learn a bit more about them when they invite Charlie to a house party where he accidentally gets stoned and impresses everyone with his sharp observations. He reveals a few things about him and they both learns that Charlie doesn't have any friends, his best friend committed suicide the year before. We learn about Patrick that he is gay and has a secret boyfriend who doesn't want anyone else to know about this. Sam is in a relationship with a guy who doesn't seem to show any real affection towards her. The three of them hangs out a lot, they help each other, have fun and drive through tunnels leading to one of the best moments of the movie when we see Sam standing up in the back of the pickup truck screaming while Charlie looks at her and David Bowie's "Heroes" (which surprisingly they don't know about and refer to it as the tunnel song) is playing.

                 The Perks of Being a Wallflower features really effective performances by its lovely cast. The standout and definitely the highlight of the movie is Ezra Miller. As Patrick who is gay, Miller really delivers a scene stealing, unusually giddy and fabulous performance that is never seen usually in actors of his age. His approach is very mature while his turn is this messy and full of life, cheerful and extravagant guy. Ezra Miller really is an amazing actor who already had a stellar breakthrough in "We Need to Talk About Kevin", he takes things a bit further this time and really shows how much talented he really is. Patrick's story is quite frankly one of the most truest and closest they have been to portraying a high school homosexual student with all its honesty and not making it some kind of a cliche. Patrick is very wounded and selfless person and takes every bit of his life as something of an opportunity. His relationship with a college jock and the turn it takes makes him vulnerable a bit in one of the most touching and emotional moments in the movie where he just lets it all out to his friend Charlie. There is Emma Watson who really shows how she can be more than just Hermione, her famous Harry Potter character that she is so famous for. Watson sheds that image and plays Sam like the free-spirited and flirtatious person she is. Sam despite all that is still a bit insecure about her life which is something many people are at that age. What is so good about Watson is that she doesn't let her character go into the same old route and instead plays it in a subtle way that neither comes off as a standard girl with issues who needs a guy to define her or a girl who is just way too mature to be in a teenage movie. And then at last, there is the hero of the movie, the very sweet and good natured Charlie. He is played by Logan Lerman who is best known for his Percy Jackson movie. He is someone who really surprises you because the other two actors have built that kind of image for themselves but Lerman for the first time delivers an absolutely amazing performance. He plays a very lovable guy, someone you can like by the very first instant because there is a kind of innocence to him. He is very delicate but sharp as well, i mean he observes everything and has a say for things. As a lead character, he is someone you can truly relate to and he easily makes you attach to him and his journey through high school. Charlie needs people who loves him in his life and he cares for his family. At first, Charlie seems to be either hiding something or there is something that has been bothering him. He is not very open to anyone, even to himself. His story later takes a very dark turn, towards the end that revelation says it all about him and why he's been this way. Quite a powerful moment.

                I haven't read the book this movie is adapted from but i would really love to. Watching this movie, i couldn't believe that a story so beautiful is based on teenagers. We have seen in the past how much this genre have been destroyed because they don't make movies about teenagers but for them. All the over the top junk-fest is what those movies are about. Still, movies like "Easy A", "Mean Girls" etc and maybe a few smaller ones have been there and you could see their impact and why they appeal so much to us. Stephen Chbosky's approach in the movie is that of an observant who lets the characters, their actions, emotions, personalities, hopes and dreams speaks for themselves. He doesn't waste time by explaining everything to us, he merely lets it all happen by letting everyone behave and not act. The natural bonding that is created between the audience and characters is just stellar. Whether you have had an amazing high school experience or a bad one, there is something for everyone in this movie and no matter what age you are now, this movie will appeal to you. I personally had to face bullying in my school as well, its very hard to not let those things get to you, i mean they does. Though it still wasn't very bad for me. I was very distant myself, i still am pretty much. This movie has all the awkwardness and beauty of those times. Friends and their stuff, boyfriends and girlfriends, hook ups and break ups, family problems, personal problems, study matters, jocks, drinks, drugs, fights, kisses... you name it. But these things strangely feels apt not forced or used as "props" if you know what i mean. The intention is to create that atmosphere and it happens. The story arcs of all the three characters are handled very well, their transformation and different phases are the focus here. There are certain elements that you might feel like are a bit on the cliche side specially the "understanding English teacher" but again, Chbosky doesn't wastes his time creating some kind of a sentimentality through it. The Perks of Being a Wallflower has a an amazing soundtrack, the songs that are used are very much in terms with the material. I always love it when teenagers have a great taste in music and they would jump with joy when they hear a great song playing. The dialogues are not over the top, there are some really great lines. The moments when the characters are talking and simply having honest conversations, it leads up to some beautiful moments. "We accept the love we think we deserve." which is so true. When this movie is funny, its not being silly and in the same way, it never settles for cheap sentimentality. Its a very heartfelt, poignant, nostalgic and moving film. The Perks of Being a Wallflower ends on a very high spirited and moving note..... "Right now we are alive and in this moment I swear we are infinite."

Grade: A-