Starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Nina Dobrev and Paul Rudd. Written by Stephen Chbosky. Directed by Stephen Chbosky. Produced by Gillian Brown, Stephen Chbosky, Ava Dellaira, Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Jim Powers and Russell Smith.
If we learn anything from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, it's that people are complicated and unpredictable. Heavy handed at times, the dark film touches on some serious issues like sexuality and suicide and captures the stress and angst of high school, but somehow fails to be anything except boring, despite potentially powerful material. Maybe it's because of the script's catering to teenagers and young adults. Or perhaps it's the result of the film's overly serious and dramatic tone. Whatever the cause, this film is one that you'll have to mentally prepare to watch and even then, despite some promising performances, it's difficult to relate to or fully connect with.
After a tragic event in his life, high school freshman Charlie (Lerman) has been dealing with some pretty detrimental psychological effects and struggles to function normally at school or in social situations, leaving him friendless – that is until seniors Sam (Watson) and Patrick (Miller) come along and take him under their wing, introducing him to a whole new chapter in his life which includes friends, love and plenty of partying. As they all become closer, their secrets are revealed – Charlie's being his inability to adapt, Sam's being her abusive past and tendency to be taken advantage of and Patrick's being his private love affair with the quarterback of the football team.
It isn't that these issues are totally unimaginable or uncommon, but the treatment they're given that makes this film difficult to connect with. Flowery language and the constant philosophizing and analysis are things that should be limited to books in which an inner monologue is necessary to the story. Film provides several tools to use in telling a story and The Perks of Being a Wallflower refuses to branch away from its source material with a script that spoonfeeds us the feelings and emotion of its protagonist rather than sculpting a real or dynamic character. Regardless, its young cast provides us with some interesting performances and adds some much-needed energy to the movie, particularly Watson, in the most daring role we've seen her in yet. —Rebecca Hillary