Written and Directed by Steven Chbosky
Starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller
Charlie: I’m both happy and sad and I’m just trying to figure out how to be.
I suppose there isn’t too much trouble of a film not being faithful to the book when the author of said book both writes the screenplay and then directs that screenplay himself. Steven Chbosky’s 1999 novel, THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, was instantly adored by young adults everywhere but yet still took more than ten years to find its way to the big screen. The wait was worth it though as Chbosky has had all that time to sit with these characters and this story. He steps behind the camera for the first time in his career and he does so with the material he knows better than anything else in the world. His familiarity paves the way for both our comfort and our ultimate enjoyment but it also doesn’t bring much of anything new either.
At the center of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER is Charlie, played by relative unknown, Logan Lerman. Well, given that Charlie is the wallflower himself, he’s actually not so much at the center as he is off to the side, watching and learning. We don’t know much about Charlie when we first meet him, other than he is starting high school and his best friend committed suicide earlier in the year. Charlie is extremely shy but determined to integrate in fear of returning to the depression he felt after he lost his friend. The most introverted person in school then meets Sam and Patrick, (Emma Watson and Ezra Miller), step-sibling, high school seniors, who happen to be two of the most extroverted people in school. They are fast friends, as is clear from their effortless chemistry with each other, and Charlie is catapulted into a world that is more alive than anything he’s ever known. Their adventures are fun to tag along on, and for a while, the film is a firm reminder of the importance of having true friends in your life.
Charlie’s journey is of great import. It is made so by the endearing and engaging performance given by Lerman. It may also be the abundant innocence in his face. Charlie is merely learning about how to date a girl or what happens when you don’t ask what’s in the brownies first, but his face is always dripping with awe and his observations are always inspired and appreciative. It is hard not to be taken in by his charm and constant state of wonder. Once taken in though, it all feels surprisingly agreeable considering Charlie’s haunted past. Chbosky creates a safe environment for all his creations to be free like the social misfits they are, but once they’re done trying their hardest to be different, you realize THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER isn’t all that dissimilar to most coming of age stories you’ve already seen.