The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) Review

Freshman year is easier with the cool kids.
(Courtesy of Summit Entertainment)

This is a film about a group of high school seniors and the freshman they “adopt” into their social circle. While this film is unbelievably witty and engaging, The Perks of Being a Wallflower involves mature themes and strong language in addition to violence. For audiences requiring a parent or guardian, be aware that there may arise questions specific to certain sequences throughout the film.

Themes of sexuality, self-identification, abuse and drug use run prevalent throughout The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Accordingly, the concept of how the outcasts prove to be more interesting and humane than the status quo emerges triumphant, yet again. The road from novel to screenplay has been gifted in this exploration of the contemporary American teen.

Logan Lerman is Charlie. He is a high school freshman, focusing on getting through his first day of school. Along for the ride is a dose of guilt and self-loathing almost stifling enough to ruin his life. Instead, it leads him to the people who will make his first year of high school heroic.

Emma Watson and Ezra Miller are siblings by marriage, Sam and Patrick. Each seems to embody the effortless and perpetual cool of the greatest high school legends. Sam has a funky, fresh style and the confidence of royalty. Patrick has a personality to put even the most over-the-top big screen musical to shame. Together, they are their own positive, motivating force in a world with too little appreciation for their individual and combined star quality.

Patrick and Charlie are classmates. When a chance appearance at a football game introduces Charlie to Patrick and Sam’s exciting world of high school elite, he plunges headfirst into a year of learning about music, girls and himself. This story conveys a version of coming of age in Pittsburgh in the 1990s that is beautiful and quite subtle in its broach of violating and explicit subject matter.

Keeping in mind that the book is number fifteen on the list of Top 100 Books Banned in the 21st Century, audiences who loved Stephen Chbosky’s controversial, semi-autographical bestselling book will appreciate the care taken with the film to remain consistent to the dimensions created by the novel. Charlie writes letters to an anonymous friend because he heard that “it helps”. He loves his parents and accepts that he is unable to communicate with them. He has no friends. The letters allow Charlie the outlet to make tangible the experiences of his life with the absence of a real mentor or friend.

Rounding out the major influences of Charlie’s first year of high school is his first girlfriend, Mary Elizabeth as portrayed by Mae Whitman. The most popular member of the wallflower crew is Johnny Miller who plays football star, Brad. The more interconnected the group becomes the more challenging it becomes to ignore peer pressure and the societal woes present within their tightknit substitute family.

The intricate nature of friendship and trust require each of them to consider the futures they hope to attain. Moving forward, Charlie must question all that he has believed about the past to save himself in the present complications of the here and now. When the bubble breaks, it is up to the last man standing to reignite the surge worth defending that lies at the heart of each of them: the safety known within their unconditional friendship.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is exactly the movie to see when love is new, or when a heart is broken, or when a good laugh is needed or even a good cry. It is a movie to watch with someone you trust and who knows every piece of your sordid past and still wants to watch great movies about great friends with you.