The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
We are Infinite
Directed by : Stephen Chbosky
Starring : Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller
Genre : Romance, Drama
Runtime : 102 minutes
WI's Rating : 8.5

Patrick: C minus, ladies and gentlemen! I am below average!
Sam: Below average!
Patrick: Below average!

Based on the popular epistolary young adult novel by Stephen Chbosky, who also directs, The Perks of Being a Wallflower centers on a young high school kid named Charlie (Logan Lerman) who is a meek, unassuming tenant of this world, a kid so shy and unremarkable that you could probably spend four years attending the same school and never notice him. That, at least, is the way his fellow students see him. We meet him at home, with his mom and dad and a sister who is dating a loser. Charlie's heart is damaged because of a tragedy long ago. His aunt died in an accident on his birthday. Years have gone by but Charlie still nurses fresh wounds. His act of self-therapy is to write in a private journal to someone he calls "My friend." We meet him as he is entering high school, a place where he is both mocked and ignored. It isn't long before – much to his amazement – he makes some friends. One is a flamboyant kid named Patrick (Ezra Miller) who has a joke or a line for each and every occasion. For a while, Patrick's overabundant personality seems one-note until late in the film when he begins to confide in Charlie some things about his own dark past that break his jolly facade. The other is Patrick's half-sister Sam, played in a brilliant performance by Emma Watson whose presence still contains echoes of Hermione Granger. Once, Sam was the "school atention", who got the attention of the boys by making herself an object of lust. Casting off that skin, she lives a cleaner life but now has to live with feelings of regret. She's not the typical Movie Girlfriend who has all the easy answers contained in a tender smile. She stirs the poetry in Charlie's soul, but she is afraid to move toward love. Sam is a particular human being, not a cliché, the rare kind of teenager who seems to be waiting for something. She doesn't live in the moment but is always looking forward. She seems to be a victim of time itself, trapped in a body and an age that won't let her press forward fast enough. That's probably why she is working so hard to get away from her past and into a good college. 

Within his new circle of friends he finds himself attending an alarming number of high school parties, one of which has him sampling the host's fresh batch of brownies – several in fact – with predictable results. Charlie is nudged into experiences that few parents would agree with, but that Charlie will certainly never forget, no matter how hard he tries. The unique circle of friends also includes a sweet but cloying girl who will briefly become Charlie's first girlfriend. She is Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman) who has little interest in Charlie as a person, but more of an interest in just having a boyfriend. She quickly gets on his nerves and their relationship comes to a devastating conclusion that we don't expect.

Charlie: I don't know if I will have the time to write anymore letters because I might be too busy trying to participate. So if this does end up being the last letter I just want you to know that I was in a bad place before I started high school and you helped me. Even if you didn't know what I was talking about or know someone who has gone through it, you made me not feel alone. Because I know there are people who say all these things don't happen. And there are people who forget what it's like to be 16 when they turn 17. I know these will all be stories someday. And our pictures will become old photographs. We'll all become somebody's mom or dad. But right now these moments are not stories. This is happening, I am here and I am looking at her. And she is so beautiful. I can see it. This one moment when you know you're not a sad story. You are alive, and you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder. And you're listening to that song and that drive with the people you love most in this world. And in this moment I swear, we are infinite.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is another story about a simple guy living in a cruel life of high school. The difference is he's not ought to save the day, wants to lose his virginity, seeking to be popular, or revenge on his bullies. The story is about a shy kid who wants to get along with people and can't wait to leave high school. Behind it is the genuine pain and emotion of the characters which makes it more than just another story about teenagers. Stephen Chbosky tells his own story on screen pretty well and the performances are quite excellent. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is often heartbreaking, charming, and wonderful. Charlie is palpably just another teenage protagonist, but he is not one of those who tries to prove everyone who mistreated him wrong. His goal is to get away from being anti-social and be like anyone else in high school. We may have heard a story like this before, but what makes this one extraordinary is when it mostly depicts the darkest aspects of their lives. Expressing the most heartbreaking truths about these teenagers. Knowing their problems easily makes it reasonable for us to care about them. The romance is rather credibly lovely than a mainstream claptrap. In the joyous moments, it's pretty delightful and plays a quite nostalgic soundtrack. The indie look and feel of the film is undeniable from the start. Single-point lighting is used effectively as a plot device. Charlie's face often appears split down the center, one side brightly lit, the other in soft shadow, mirroring his conflicted soul and sense of confusion, trapped between two worlds. Light falls gently on him when he's serene, more harshly in moments of crisis. The darkness hides the secrets he deftly keeps to himself as the narrative unfolds.

Sam: You can't just sit there and put everybody's lives ahead of yours and think it counts as love. 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is unpredictable because it depends on the actions of the characters, both in the serious and the comic moments. They are written and acted with such specific detail that we can feel the even flow of their lives. There is drama, joy, heartbreaks, mistakes, misunderstandings, romance, laughter and revelations. It is a breath of fresh air to finally encounter a screenplay that lets the characters be human beings. It feels the joy and tragedy of the awkward passage of the teenage years. This is a film so smart about life that you find yourself nodding with recognition. It is one of the best films of the year.


  1. Looks like an interesting film:) Great review!


  2. I want to watch this movie after reading your review. Thanks for sharing <3

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