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REVIEW: "The Perks Of Being A Wallflower" Delivers Emotions, Laughs

Dian Qi |
September 24, 2012 | 12:34 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Emma Watson and Logan Lerman in The Perks of Being a Wallflower © Summit Entertainment
Emma Watson and Logan Lerman in The Perks of Being a Wallflower © Summit Entertainment
Stephen Chbosky, author of the wildly popular and acclaimed novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, has now made his directorial debut out of his very own novel. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (now out in limited release) is a '90s based coming-of-age story that accurately portrays the sentimentally sweet, yet at times devastating, years of high school through the eyes of its main protagonist, Charlie (Logan Lerman).

Charlie, a quiet freshman whose psychologically traumatizing past has left him a social wreck, finds refuge in a group of hipster, self-proclaimed "below average" kids that the rest of the school deems weirdos. Enter the hilariously quirky and flamboyantly gay Patrick (Ezra Miller), his equally quirky, free-spirited stepsister Sam (Emma Watson), and a couple of other liberal misfits. The crew of seniors quickly befriend the freshman, and thus begin the adventures and misadventures, the trials of love, lust, and heartbreak, and all the social turmoils of high school that ultimately come to shape each and every one of the characters.

Though perhaps an overused general movie theme of "surviving high school and finding who you are," The Perks of Being a Wallflower holds its own in that it exposes the truly dark and grim underbelly of growing up and the loss of innocence that occurs even in the world of the privileged. Sexual abuse and homophobia are only the beginning of a list of underlying issues that tarnish what seems to be outwardly, a cheerful, carefree teenage story. They are the horrendous yet unspoken-of plights that many in the audience will personally identify with, if not at least associate with a friend or someone they knew in high school. 

Yet in spite of the veiled problems that underline the growing-up experiences of the group of friends, it is these very problems that define them and create their identities. Sure, any one of their lives could have been just fine without the misfortunes they endured, but, as the saying goes, it is what it is - and that's just fine for Charlie and his friends. They accept the past, work on the present, and look toward the future.

Despite a sometimes overly sentimental sweetness that lingers about the entire film, The Perks of Being a Wallflower delivers. In fact, that sweetness might just be what audiences crave for from a film like this. The film is boosted by great performances from the entire cast, especially Miller's eccentric yet emotionally torn Patrick. Watson makes a fine performance as the weird yet sultry crush of Charlie, but having known her for years as the British witch Hermione Granger makes it difficult to ignore her forced American accent. And at that same token, Charlie's almost-too-handsome look also makes him a tad unbelievable as the outcasted pariah he is made out to be. However, the good definitely outweighs the bad in this nostalgic film, and thus warrants a suspension of disbelief for those minor flaws.


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