Logan Lerman, maybe a touch too cute for the Charlie a lot of us have in our minds, will win you over with his earnest personality and finds a way to encompass all the highs and lows of the quintessential high school freshman. At times his actions are heartbreaking and heroic, other times they are hilarious and embarrassing. Most importantly, they are genuine.
Chbosky also deserves praise for finding a way to adapt the narrative device of the book to film, wisely glossing over some of the more tertiary subplots in the book in favor of the heavy hitting revelation that comes near the end of Charlie’s journey as a freshman.
A great protagonist is only as good as those who surround him, and Lerman is lifted up by Emma Watson and Ezra Miller, leaders of the “Island of misfit toys.” Miller wears his heart on his sleeve and Watson (who is the spitting image of a more polished and pretty Ally Sheedy. Sorry, Ally.) displays a spirit that proves she has left the days of Hogwarts and Hermione behind her. While more fans of young-adult films are familiar with the likes of Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner, the trio from Perks of Being a Wallflower possess more talent and sincerity in one scene at a high school dance than the Twilight gang does in an entire film franchise. You can’t underestimate the power that comes with being able to believing someone. When Watson holds a vinyl record to her heart, it rings true and one can’t help but be reminded of the joy that came when their high school or college sweetheart made them a mix tape or playlist. (Feel free to close your eyes and think of the songs of past. It’s okay. We’ll wait.)
Some moviegoers will find the film to be a touch too sappy and convenient (after all, who wouldn’t wish for friends as profound and passionate as Sam and Patrick) but it’s important to remember that this is a film about high school, where hormones are at an all-time high and everybody feels like they’re the lead role in a Shakespearean Tragedy. If anything, you could make the case that the conflict within the trio of friends is handled with a surprising level of temperance(Charlie deals with mental illness, Patrick struggles to deal with a closeted relationship with the star football player, and Sam masks her loneliness through co-dependency).
Perhaps the greatest strength of Perks of Being a Wallflower comes in its ability to reaffirm the time tested truth of adolescence; we get by with a little help from our friends. And like the song that Sam can’t get out of her head, the story takes us back to a time when we believed in the promise that we could be heroes, even if just for one day.
Playmaker Grade- A