Cinema Review – The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is out in cinemas this week, but has Stephen Chbosky improved on his novel? Here are Tom’s thoughts on the film:
As a teenager I was repeatedly told that college and University are some of the greatest, if not the best, experiences of your life and I can now wholeheartedly agree with this phrase. It’s a time when teenagers finally find their true selves and become accepted for who they are, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower focuses on this important time in Charlie’s life as an introverted Freshman attempting to put his troubled past behind him with a new start.
Being an outsider is always difficult, and although Charlie is befriended by Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd), his new English teacher who appreciates Charlie’s affinity with literature, he is largely ignored by people his own age. Charlie is seen using a typewriter throughout the film and narrates much of his experiences this way, bearing his heart and true emotions to an unknown reader, whilst trying to find his place amongst his classmates. A bold move at a baseball game initially puts Charlie out of his depth but he soon begins to blossom into a young adult thanks to his new-found friends.
Ezra Miller follows his stunning performance in We Need to Talk About Kevin with a dazzling turn as Charlie’s new friend Patrick, who turns out to favour dressing in women’s clothing and is similarly outcast by most of his peers. As the two spend more time together Charlie soon becomes initiated into his group of friends and gradually becomes infatuated with Patrick’s step-sister Sam, played by Emma Watson, in a role that erases all memories of her participation in a certain series involving a young wizard. All three young actors are sensational and Logan Lerman perfectly captures the heartbreak that comes with growing up as the titular ‘wallflower’, as Charlie is confined to the edges of his social group and still reeling from troubled times in his childhood.
The direction is solid throughout as the moments of joy experienced by Charlie are near rapturous and the more poignant scenes are handled with a care often unseen in a coming of age film. Stephen Chbosky certainly knows how to manipulate an audience; there were few dry eyes in the screening I attended, whether due to the revelations in the plot or the stirring of memories of times now passed, and it did prove rather difficult to hold back the tears.
Drenched in nostalgia for the early nineties, The Perks of Being a Wallflower will find an attentive audience in viewers who were there at the time as much as today’s youth, thanks to the superb soundtrack and fantastic attention to detail of the era. Avoiding the usual clichés, Chbosky has created a captivating coming of age tale that many will be watching for Emma Watson’s performance but all will undoubtedly come away yearning for days long gone or longing for new adventures. Life-affirming, funny and moving, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a unmissable film, that comes highly recommended.