Drama, Reviews

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Copyright © 2012 by Summit Entertainment

Charlie Kelmeckis (Logan Lerman) has just lost his only friend from committing suicide a year ago and is jittery about commencing his freshman year in high school. He is the aforementioned wallflower and has difficulty connecting with his peers. The only bond he has initially is with his English teacher, Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd). He eventually befriends with two seniors, Sam (Emma Watson) and her stepbrother Patrick (Ezra Miller) who help him overcome his introverted nature to live and enjoy the remnants of his teenage life with no regrets.

After the end of Harry Potter’s reign in the box office, many have wondered where our trio of wizards and witch would head next for their upcoming project. Daniel Radcliffe as Harry himself went on to headline ‘The Woman in Black’, a huge hit in the horror genre whereas Rupert Grint, who played Ron Weasley opted for more indie fare. And which route did our beautiful Hermione Granger take to further cement her acting career in Hollywood? By taking on another bestseller, of course!

Touted as a potential Oscar nominee with many speculating that Watson would get her first acting nomination, it was ultimately shut out from the race in all competing categories although it did receive a warmer reception from the critics’ film awards. She continues her winning streak here of effectively blending critical and commercial success in her ever expanding repertoire. While the drama did recoup the budget spent, it is quite a shame that Stephen Chbosky’s literary effort (he adapted and directed this feature as well) did not reach audiences from beyond the book.

‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ could have been overly melodramatic and sentimental but in the author’s sure-handed direction, what we get is a realistic depiction of the growing pains that all teenagers face and how the power of friendship triumphs over anything else. The direction may be subtle but Chbosky hits us head on with weighty issues i.e. teen violence, homosexuality, child molestation and the toll it takes on one’s state of mind. They are not watered down or hastily sidelined to adhere to more mainstream sensibilities. The solemn tone is beautifully complemented with Chbosky’s flair for playfulness, thus creating an entertaining coming-of-age tale that never lets up until its final disturbing twist is revealed.

Each harrowing and light-hearted moments are brought to perfection by the flawless cast. As what you would expect from Watson, she delivers a class act that continues to showcase her growth as an artiste. She rightfully shares the credit with her co-star Miller as the flamboyant and charismatic Patrick. Together, this dynamic duo’s stance on the unorthodox is an inspiration to many who have always been too bound by the rules of conformity. With such sturdy performances, how does our third musketeer hold up against his counterparts? After a rather rocky start to his previous big screen appearance, Lerman’s depiction as your regular shy guy is immaculate and he instantly brings a likeable charm to his very suppressed and wounded character.

As it is a character-driven piece, even the supporting cast turn in compelling performances with deserved recognition from Nina Dobrev as Candace Kelmeckis, Charlie’s sister, Mae Whitman who is the over-bearing Mary Elizabeth, Joan Cusack playing a brief but pivotal role of Dr. Burton and Rudd as Charlie’s kindly English teacher. The understated realism of how these events unfold may echo Charlie’s mannerism but just like him, the movie’s observation on typical adolescent problems are seen through a fresh and intelligent perspective, joining fellow alumni that include Juno, Easy A, Mean Girls, Adventureland and 90s classic, My Girl.

Entirety: A
Acting: A
Plot: A

Rated PG-13 on appeal for mature thematic material, drug and alcohol use, sexual content including references, and a fight – all involving teens


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