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Film review: THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, from Built For Speed

The Perks of Being a Wallflower at first seems like it might be aimed exclusively at self-pitying emos.  That, however, would be denying the film its due credit as it’s a mostly funny and sensitive film with a dark undercurrent and a terrific soundtrack. Like the John Hughes films of the 80’s and the more recent Adventureland this film explores the painful, confusing but sometimes exhilarating experience of being a teenager.

Logan Lerman who’s 20 but looks 16 plays Charlie, a quiet bookish guy entering the nightmare world of high school. Seemingly haunted by events in his childhood, Charlie is socially awkward and even a little creepy.  At first friendless and bullied, he soon fumbles his way into a cool group of would-be bohemian outsiders lead by Patrick (Ezra Miller from We Need to talk about Kevin) and Sam (Emma Watson).  Accepted by the group, Charlie’s self-confidence grows as does his attraction to Sam but the possibility of them getting together is constantly thwarted.

Like Adventureland this is a superior teen romance that forges a believable and moving link between its two main characters Charlie and Sam.  As a fumbling innocent in a new and exotic world, Lerman has the right mix of trepidation, clumsiness and excitement.

Emma Watson is her usual charming pixie-like self and turns a potentially irritating character into a very likeable one.  Ezra Miller is annoyingly overconfident at first but steadily reveals a moving vulnerability.

Although set roughly in 1988, this is not a nostalgic costume piece, in fact it actually looks very contemporary.  Still, it does feature some sensational 80’s era tracks by The Smiths, Sonic Youth and New Order and a rousing prom scene involving Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ “Come on Eileen”.

With its nostalgia, perceptively drawn characters and involving drama, I have a sneaking suspicion The Perks of Being a Wallflower will become a bit of a cult movie for teens and Smiths fans of all ages.

 

Nick’s rating:  Three and a half stars.

Classification: M

Director(s): Stephen Chbosky.

Release date: 29th Nov 2012

Running time: 102 mins.

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