You will all appreciate the trials and tribulations that we feel obligated to go through during high school. Growing accustomed in a world where finding common ground is never the easiest obstacle to overcome, as we face head on the pretentiousness and blinding arrogance of the popular contingent whilst unearthing a true sense of ourselves.
Stephen Chbosky’s critically acclaimed 1999 novel ‘The Perks Of Being A Wallflower’ expertly compressed such a range of emotions, with a welcome sprinkling of nostalgia. Making the step up to director, Chbosky’s task of standing out from the crowd with a cinematic version in 2012 likely proved daunting, after a barrage of much adored ‘coming of age’ films. Without further ado..
Let me introduce you to the year 1991 and Charlie (Logan Lerman). A bright spark of a teenager who to many’s frustrations (his parents in particular), doesn’t socially come across in commanding fashion. His mind is stifled by previous traumas and deems it the perfect ammunition to remain ‘invisible’ to the public eye with his unassuming and awkward demeanour. Preferring to bury his head in classic books such as The Great Gatsby and setting the mood right with mixtapes, he finds solace in the colorful double act of flamboyant Patrick (We Need To Talk About Kevin’s Ezra Miller) and free spirited Sam (Emma Watson).
Soon getting over the unfortunate mix-up of branding the pair ’boyfriend/girlfriend’, Charlie slowly embraces the varied range of eccentric experiences you come to expect during such a period of your life. Cue being ‘baked as a cake’, coming to terms with the complications of ‘love’ and dipping toes into the unchartered waters of theatricality.
‘The Perks Of Being A Wallflower’ first and foremost.. digs and eventually cuts deeper than most of it’s sub-genre counterparts and its style will likely evoke memories of the John Hughes’ classics of the 80’s (The Breakfast Club). Sure, the comic potshots of drug taking and those ‘first times’ are effectively integrated into the film’s framework. However it’s the raw dissection of Charlie’s psyche in particular, that will resonate with its target demographic. Refusing to wrap subject matters (mental illness for one) in cotton wool or provide his characters the easy route out when faced with difficulty, Chbosky’s approach never steers towards being ‘manufactured’ and instead proves overwhelmingly honest and accurate.
For all it’s emotional baggage, Chbosky proves equally as competent with the light hearted and somewhat wonderful moments. Zingers such as Patrick’s dream series of novels ’Slut and The Falcon’, an inspired dance routine musically accompanied by Dexy’s Midnight Runners, or a perfectly compositioned high angle shot of Charlie knee deep in snow looking up to the sky, the film never fails to engage.
The chemistry between our non-conformist trio was going to be crucial and to much relief, no one feels like an outsider. Emma Watson’s main challenge was likely to be channelling a convincing American accent and.. she succeeds. Providing the heart and a maturity perhaps lacking in her ‘Harry Potter’ days, her performance as Sam is the ideal foil for Ezra Miller’s show stealing turn as Patrick. Roaming around as a proud gay guy with his own poignant character arc, his sharp tacked wit is a delight to behold. Last but not least, Logan Lerman’s Charlie is a breeze of a character to sympathise with. As his plight gets considerably darker in nature, Lerman’s injection of vulnerability is likely to leave many wiping the tears away.
I will forever resonate with Charlie. Never quite feeling ‘complete’. That sense of blaming yourself for experiences undoubtedly out of your control. Fearful that your reclusive nature makes the people you care about ‘nervous’. Never fully buying into what is spoonfed to the masses in order to feel ‘content’. In a film that proved therapeutic on a personal level, but is also truly brilliant on a critical and cinematic level.. ‘The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. Please accept the ‘love i think you deserve’.