As the fall movie season picks up, a film that is likely to go overlooked is quietly expanding: The Perks of Being a Wallflower, an entertaining and well made drama-comedy starring Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller and Emma Watson.
Lerman plays a quiet freshman named Charlie, who, after a mental breakdown, has returned to school with no friends in sight. One assertive move, however, introduces him to a group of offbeat teenagers, namely excitable Patrick (Miller) and his step-sister Sam (Watson), who he finds unbelievably gorgeous because he has the same good taste as I do. The Perks of Being a Wallflower follows Charlie through a year of school as he experiences new things. Like pot and kissing Emma Watson.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which is written, directed by and based on a 1999 novel by Stephen Chbosky, is the most relatable comedy-drama since (500) Days of Summer. While not as energetic or original as that movie, Wallflower has great characters, good performances and a superb blend of humor and seriousness that keeps the story grounded.
Lerman shows range that he was unable to achieve in Percy Jackson; he's nearly unrecognizable as the introverted Charlie. Speaking of unrecognizable, Miller delivers a complete opposite performance from his last, which was as a sociopathic high school mass murderer in the utterly depressing We Need to Talk About Kevin. Miller's spirited performance as the fun loving but pained Patrick gives the film much of its energy. Watson simply proves that she is going to have no problem finding building a successful career in her post-Harry Potter days.
As good as the performances are, it's the characters and their chemistry with one another that make Wallflower what it is. Chbosky's film is fine-tuned and consistently on-the-spot, one of the most relatable teenage films in a long time. Set in the early 1990's, the movie at times feels like a John Hughes movie.
Chbosky's picture works so well that when he lays the shocking final few minutes on the audience like a ton of bricks, he doesn't lose a step, even though the tone of the movie makes a major shift. That's skill.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a great movie that, unfortunately, will be overlooked and underappreciated by general audiences. It's a true shame, because it's one of the best movies in months, and one of the most entertaining.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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