The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) – Film Review

The filmnomore movie blog review of the multi faceted The Perks of Being a Wallflower


This was a film I recorded from the TV and caught up with a few days ago.  It is based on a novel by Stephen Chbosky who also took it upon himself to write the screenplay and direct.  Young Stephen, it is possible to be too talented and show off a little bit too much … just so you know for the future.  The film sees Charlie (Logan Lerman) starting his freshman year at high school and it is clear he is dreading it – he knows exactly how many days there are to his graduation.  It becomes clear that he’s trying to overcome some kind of trauma and his way of dealing with this and surviving high school is to try and fly under the radar.  Almost by accident he meets the enigmatic seniors Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson) who take him under their wing and introduce him to a cool alternative high school experience.

It is normal to try and pigeon-hole a film so that people interested in finding out about a movie get a feel for what it is about.  That is easier said than done with The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  It is part grown-up drama, part teenage angst movie, part romance and part fantasy.  Charlie is a damaged young man who is having to deal with a loss of some kind which had led him to suffer from mental health issues.  He is also living in denial about his relationship with the person he lost and his journey back to health is full of peaks and troughs.  With teenagers you get the obligatory unnecessary introspection but with Charlie he is socially withdrawn and is getting involved in adult situations without the tools to make it work.  The reason why I consider this film to be a fantasy (at least in part) is because I don’t recognise the high school scene the three main characters create.  I understand the novel was based on the experiences of the writer and I suspect there is an element of wish fulfillment in creating the experience he always wanted to have.

A word or two at this moment should be devoted to the performance of Logan Lerman.  It is normal in a film for some of the side characters to steal the show because they have the opportunity to throw caution to the wind and go for it.  Miller and Watson try their best but this remains Lerman’s film.  At first it looks like he is going to be yet another nerdy teenager who wins out against the bullies but once the movie starts to deal with his internal battles he goes into another gear and by the end he is portraying a completely different character.  As good as he was in Fury (2014) I think his performance in this film is better – it certainly helps me forget he was in the truly ghastly The Three Musketeers (2011).

If you haven’t seen this film yet then it comes highly recommended.  It took a smidge over $33m at the worldwide box office which is a crying shame for a film of this quality.  Unfortunately I don’t think it was possible to convey the true nature of the movie in a two minute trailer.  It’s a well realised, fantastically acted story, that is difficult to categorise and is all the better for it.  My rating 4/5.


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