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.
Director(s): Stephen Chbosky.
Release date: 29th Nov 2012
Running time: 102 mins.
- What’s on Built For Speed, Friday 7th December 2012
- Film review: THE BLING RING, from Built For Speed
- Film review: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2, from Built For Speed
- Film review: SNOOPY AND CHARLIE BROWN: THE PEANUTS MOVIE, from ‘Built For Speed’
- Film review: PERCY JACKSON – SEA OF MONSTERS, from Built For Speed