The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Nationwide October 3, Cert: 15A, Four stars out of Five
Film review by GARETH NAUGHTON
WHOEVER decided it was a good idea to let Stephen Chbosky both adapt and direct his own novel for the big screen deserves a hug. Everything about The Perks of Being a Wallflower feels right from the cast through to the clothes, the music and even the time period.
The attention to detail — which has only one real flaw — and the love that has clearly gone into turning this story into a film really pays off.
Logan Lerman plays troubled teenager Charlie, fragile after a spell in the local mental health facility and plunged into the nightmare that is starting high school with no friends and a bookish personality. He may as well be dead.
As luck, and a bit of bravery on his part, would have it, however, Charlie is taken under the wing of slightly camp, brilliantly self-assured Patrick (Ezra Miller) and his friendly, engaging and cool stepsister Sam (Emma Watson). They take him into their group and, having met people who appreciate him for who he is, his life starts to open up.
It doesn’t take long for Charlie’s demons to start rearing up again, putting his new life in jeopardy.
Here is a film that should be horribly pretentious.
Everything about The Perks of Being a Wallflower screams insufferable hipster. Check out the trailer and the particularly excruciating moment where Emma Watson says “Welcome to the Island of Misfit Toys” for evidence of that. These are the sort of kids who stage The Rocky Horror Show complete with cross-dressing.
They bang on about listening to “good” music all the time. They should be hateful human beings and yet they are not. Far from it, in fact, and that is thanks to Chbosky’s script which delicately draws these characters without turning them into caricatures.
Patrick is a little bit outré but he’s no Kurt from Glee and Charlie is clearly struggling but he’s not running home to cover his bedroom in tinfoil. Sam is cool but not so cool that you want her to fall into a woodchipper.
All three leads deserve praise but Lerman is particularly brilliant. He achieves just the right blend of sweet and naïve with a hint of darkness and keeps the film on the right path.
Yeah, it has the odd flaw. A couple of throwaway characters. A key experience in the film is soundtracked by David Bowie’s Heroes (“I feel infinite”, Charlie says and, amazingly, it doesn’t sound remotely affected) and we are supposed to believe that these kids, who listen to The Smiths and never rocked out to Meatloaf, would not know what the song is.
Who cares? Truly great coming of age dramas are hardly ten-a-penny. This one should be celebrated.
Read Gareth’s reviews of What Richard Did and Taken 2 in Downtown, free with Thursday’s Cork Evening Echo