Lets get it out of the way, yes, I was, and by most accounts still am, very much a Wallflower. Perks of Being a Wallflower looks at some familiar territory in the High School drama genre, just does it with more surprising pathos and heart than most others in the same category. Logan Lerman gives an extremely heartfelt and relatable performance as the socially awkward Charlie, a Freshman lost in the shuffle of High School Cliques and the afternoon lunch tables.
His problems are not exclusive to the normal socially dysfunctional teenager issues. He’s intelligent but cannot speak up in class, he has an older sister that’s in a toxic relationship and he has had numerous personal tragedies in his childhood. Add the awkwardness of first year of High-School and he has some serious obstacles to overcome. He’ll need help coming in the form of a teacher played wonderfully by Paul Rudd, other social outcasts and those that just don’t fit in.
One of these ‘Wallflowers’ is Emma Watson’s (Sporting an impecable American Accent) Sam. An upperclassman, that is beautiful, troubled but nonetheless outgoing young woman she becomes the object of affection for Charlie. Her close-knit group of friends allows Charlie a sense of belonging that he desperately needs at this time in his life. Gradually, Charlie begins to settle into his high-school life… at first.
Another Senior that helps Charlie along is Patrick, played with a lot of charisma by Ezra Miller, the one who actually introduces Charlie to his circle of ‘misfit toys’. The two of them actually end up helping each other cope with ups and downs of the melodrama that is High-School.
There in lies the heart of the film, these are people you want to hang-out with. It is very important for movies like this with no real plot, you must want to see these people’s chemistry unfold with each other. Just like the Late Great John Hughes’ young adults, these are people you instantly gravitate towards. Whether it because you were one of these people, knew people like this or just want to chill with these people for awhile. Obviously trying to imitate the likes of the aforementioned John Hughes, who helped define the self-reflexive high-school drama, Perks covers a more Melodramatic territory than Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and even Breakfast Club. However, there are still moments that ring as genuine as real-life. Charlie’s deep rooted problems don’t end with finding the Wallflowers. There is much to overcome, that isn’t all solved in the films run-time. Above all Charlie just wants to belong, and find his way out of his rutt he has had for long time.
It was only after reading the synopsis for the film that I found out that the setting for the movie was circa 1991. Could’ve fooled me, all the problems evident in the film are as prevalent as they were two decades ago. The problems are the same but the solutions are also the same, finding comfort in the kindness of like-minded people.
(8/10, covers familiar territory but does it with uncommonly good heart and genuineness)