The Perks of Being a Wallflower is based on the wildly popular novel by Stephen Chbosky about a freshman named Charlie (Logan Lerman) who is always watching from the sidelines until a pair of charismatic seniors takes him under their wing. Beautiful, free-spirited Sam (Emma Watson) and her fearless stepbrother Patrick (Ezra Miller) shepherd Charlie through new friendships, first love, burgeoning sexuality, bacchanalian parties, midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the quest for the perfect song.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a heartfelt, beautiful teen flick. It’s the kind of film John Hughes would have made today, if he had been alive, and if he was still making the kind of films he made in the 80’s. Unfortunately he’s dead, so he’s not making those films any more. In fact, no one is. When was the last time we saw a truly classic teen flick? And no, Twilight doesn’t count.
A good teen film is about firsts and lasts. First party, first crush, first kiss. Last day of school, last time you saw a friend, last day as a virgin. There’s an unmistakable energy in a film, when it captures the mood of being in that state of mind, where everything seems to fall into those two categories, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower does exactly that.
Logan Lerman is very likable in the lead. He’s the loser, the geek, the outcast, but he doesn’t play that as aggressively as many other young actors in similar roles. Ezra Miller steals most of the scenes with a flamboyant, but not overtly gay performance (the character IS gay I should point out), and Emma Watson is adorable as Sam – I’m glad she got away from that Hawkworts crowd she was hanging out with, they were bad news. She should definitely do more movies like this.
You could argue that there’s little new under the sun here, and that’s a fair point. This is a very traditional film, full of traditional elements, but isn’t that just the nature of the beast? After all aren’t these characters merely going through the same things every one of us has to go through, to some degree? Having said that The Perks of Being a Wallflower also ventures into the dark corners of a young confused mind towards the end, in a way the classics never did.
To sum up: There’s definitely room for this on the teen flick shelf (yes, I have one, leave me alone). If nothing else, it’ll give the Hughes movies a well-deserved rest.
Audio & Video:
The film was shot analogue and it shows. There’s a good amount of grain in the images, often more than you’d expect from a modern film (occasionally a lot more), but it fits the period style quite well. The film has a warm, pleasing look, but it’s also a bit on the dark side, so this is not a transfer that pops, and some people will be bothered by the amount of grain.
There’s a lot of talk in this film, but also quite a few party scenes, and scenes where the period soundtrack takes over and creates the mood. Every aspect of this mix works as it should. The dialogue is crisp, the mix is well-defined, but this is not a mind-blowing soundtrack.
A good batch of extras, with two engaging commentaries and few extra bits. Disc is region A locked.
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Stephen Chbosky
- Cast and Director Commentary with Stephen Chbosky, Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, Emma Watson, Johnny Simmons, Mae Whitman and Erin Wilhelm
- Best Summer Ever featurette (5:00)
- Deleted scenes (23:11)
- Dailies (7:04)
Despite having close to 40 summers behind me, I’m still madly and deeply in love with teen flicks like this. The Perks of Being a Wallflower won my heart and mind, and I never wanted it to end.
Extra Features: B