Stephen Chbosky’s film “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” touchingly portrays the lives of less-than-ordinary high schoolers struggling with serious issues in a truly unforgettable manner.
The main character Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a quiet, bookworm who begins his transition into high school with little more than hope to find new friends who can help him forget his past. An aspiring writer, Charlie composes a number of letters to an anonymous friend, expressing his deepest feelings on paper. He soon runs into Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller), two odd, fun-loving step-siblings that accept him into their group of “misfit toys.” With them, he develops a close friendship, especially through sharing music through mix tapes with each other. Charlie soon discovers the life of parties, drugs and crushes while trying to forget about the pain he has lived with since his best friend, Michael, committed suicide.
While he integrates himself as a new freshman, he forms a close bond with his high school English teacher, who he becomes extremely fond of throughout the plot line. As Charlie deals with his own emotional issues, he learns of the physical abuse his sister is experiencing as well as the sexual abuse his new friend Sam has dealt with in the past. Meanwhile, he watches as Patrick struggles to keep his gay relationship in the closet, so to speak.
Then, Charlie deals with a relationship (or crush) of his own as he gets closer to Sam. Sparks fly for Charlie, but Sam is seeing an older guy in college. Their relationship leaves Charlie wondering, as he does throughout most of the movie, why good people always end up with the ones who don’t treat them the way they deserve. His sister’s abusive relationship and Patrick’s complicated secret relationship fuel the fire in his search for the answer.
Throughout “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” viewers see Charlie’s ups and downs — including rapid transitions between happiness and sorrow, keeping friends and losing them and learning to forgive and forget the ever-present issues from younger years. They also get to experience Charlie’s first kiss, first date, first love and how “infinite” it truly feels. This movie incorporated a perfect amount of humor into the scenes, depicting the typical life for teens today. Although there were several loose ends and a few confusing episodes, everything came together at the end and allowed the audience to fully connect with Charlie’s emotions.
Charlie’s imperfections, and those of the film for that matter, make it all the more engaging. Perhaps the most impactful moment occurs at the end of the movie, when Charlie reveals a huge secret from his past and clarifies current relationships.
I give this film four out of five stars largely because it exceeded my expectations. The cast did a wonderful job fulfilling the character’s roles realistically. Although I have not read the book, the story was told on-screen in a profound way that kept me guessing; I never knew what was going to happen next. In my mind, the best types of movies are the ones, much like this, where the audience can laugh, cry and experience all of the emotions right along with the main characters. As this story of a true wallflower unfolds, your eyes will be glued to the screen for the entire 102-minute duration, dying to see what the next scene has in store. It will leave you with a new outlook on life, and hopefully if you haven’t read the book yet, you will be running to the bookstore the next day to pick up a copy of Chbosky’s novel. This movie is a must-see, coming-of-age story for people of all ages.
4 out of 5 stars