There are only a handful of original scripts in Hollywood these days. Books are used again and again as raw material for movies that end up not resembling the original text at all. Author Stephen Chbosky avoided this problem by writing the screenplay and directing the movie adaptation of his own critically acclaimed book, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”
Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a shy high school freshman who writes letters to a
“friend” about his daily life. On his first day of class, the only friend he makes is his English teacher, Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd). Then he meets seniors Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson), whom Charlie develops a crush on. Charlie’s bond with these stepsiblings, along with their other friends, shoplifter Alice (Erin Wilhelmi) and Buddhist punk rocker Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman), opens his eyes to the world outside of his family circle and pushes him away from the emotional scars of his traumatic childhood.
The plotline of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is a realistic, emotional and heartwarming story, but it would have felt flat without the outstanding acting of its protagonist trio. Miller demonstrates, with his stellar performance, that he has what it takes to become a successful Hollywood star. Watson, on the other hand, shows she is ready to take Hollywood by storm with gritty, audacious roles that will appeal to a more mature audience. Lerman delivers his tantalizing performance with a mix of subtlety, innocence and repressed hurt that explores the myriad of feelings and experiences Charlie goes through. These emotions build up to the hypnotic scenes that expose Charlie’s lacerated psyche to catharsis.
Chbosky’s story balances drama and humor, giving the audience breaks from the intense scenes with awkward, funny reminders of life in high school. For example, Mary Elizabeth’s extremely long phone conversations during the short time Charlie was her boyfriend. Chbosky’s directing skills are spot-on, with careful shots portraying the emotional rollercoaster the characters experience.
This film is one of the few intelligent movies that makes viewers not only laugh and cry but also think about what life and happiness really mean. The film will leave the audience with mixed emotions, just like Charlie.
Overall rating: 3 ½ stars
Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller star in ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower,’ based on Stephen Chbosky’s novel of the same name.