Starring: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Mae Whitman, Johnny Simmons, Melanie Lynskey
Running time: 102 minutes
As an avid reader and film-watcher, there’s nothing scarier than a book-to-screen adaptation. I’ve seen many over my short life that really haven’t been up to scratch, while others have blown me away. THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER comfortably fits in the second category.
Based on the book of the same name (and directed by its author, Stephen Chbosky), THE PERKS… follows Logan Lerman as Charlie – a shy, sensitive and lonely freshman, as he starts his first year of high school. After the first few awkward weeks of school (and making his only friend – his English teacher (played by Paul Rudd)), Charlie is befriended by the extremely confident senior Patrick (Miller) and his step-sister Sam (Watson). After being welcomed into their close-knit group, Charlie is exposed to a whole new world of drugs, sex, homophobia, suicide and love. But with a past as complicated and sad as his, is this new ‘adult’ world too much for Charlie to handle?
With Chbosky holding the reigns to the film, very little slips past him. Obviously he knows the story inside and out and – as far as I remember – very little is missed. Lerman is perfect as Charlie, who is described as ‘the wallflower’ – someone who watches and understands everything. Accompanied by Miller and Watson, the trio are a wonder to watch on screen. Ezra is confident, sassy and quick-witted, with Patrick bringing the biggest comedic element to the film. Watson’s role as Sam couldn’t be further from her career as Hermione Granger in the HARRY POTTER series, but she still manages to produce a feminine and very emotional performance (although her American accent sometimes fails her).
But what makes THE PERKS… so different to other ‘teen’ films is its dealings with such heavy themes. Although set in a high school, nothing goes untouched, with a huge climatic fight scene erupting, which confronts how schools deal with bullying and homophobia. Sexual abuse is also hinted at amongst the different characters, giving the film a melancholy, almost creepy undertone. Aside from the heavy themes, Chbosky does book fans proud, especially by including a soundtrack influenced by his original novel.
THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER is witty, fun and extremely touching. Lerman’s climatic end scenes are superb – this is not one to be missed.