out of Five
Running time: 103
Enjoyable and emotionally engaging coming-of-age teen drama with a superb soundtrack, a sensitive, sharply written script and a trio of terrific performances from Lerman, Miller and Watson.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Stephen Chbosky (adapting his own novel), The Perks of Being A Wallflower is set in the early 90s (judging by the fact that no-one has a mobile phone and everybody makes each other mix-tapes) and stars Logan Lerman as Charlie, a lonely teenager who begins his first day of high school after a lengthy stay in hospital. On his first day, Charlie sparks a connection with his friendly English teacher (Paul Rudd) and subsequently makes friends with outrageous senior Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Patrick's sexy, music-savvy stepsister Sam (Emma Watson).
Inducted into Patrick and Sam's group of friends, Charlie feels like he's found his place in high school, though he constantly worries about ‘getting bad’ again. At the same time, he enters into his first ever relationship with Buddhist punk friend Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman), though he's secretly in love with Sam.
Logan Lerman is terrific as Charlie, delivering a thoughtful, heartfelt performance that is extremely engaging. Similarly, Miller is charming and funny as Patrick, nabbing all the best lines and sparking strong chemistry with both his co-stars, while Watson does wonders with what could have been a highly irritating Manic Pixie Dream Girl part and nails the American accent in the process; there's also strong support from Mae Whitman, while Rudd, Dylan McDermott and Melanie Lynskey each make small but significant contributions in adult roles.
Chbosky's script is excellent, creating believable high school characters and indulging in nostalgia-fuelled coming-of-age stuff on the one hand (more mix-tapes are handed out in this movie than in John Hughes' entire ouevre) while also taking a sensitive approach to a number of serious issues that aren't often explored in this kind of film.
In addition, Chbosky orchestrates a number of superb scenes, whether it's Charlie committing a hideous faux pas during Truth or Dare or a cleverly constructed fight scene. In fact, the only problem with the film is the occasional credulity-stretching lapse, such as the fact that these Smiths-loving, supercool, mixtape-mental teens have apparently never heard of David Bowie.
The Perks of Being A Wallflower is a hugely enjoyable, well made and sharply written teen movie with terrific performances from Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller and Emma Watson. Highly recommended.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (12A)