Movies dealing with high school have never been one of my favorite subjects to watch. Most haven’t been all that great, and are almost all the same. It is rare, but a few have come out that have actually surprised me. This is taken to another level with The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Most high school films seem like they are using a high school level brain – basic stuff. Here, on the other hand, a teen movie is given an adults brain. What helps push it over the edge though, is it’s not solely just about high school. It’s the foundation, but what’s built on that is something special. Everything dealing with marketing has made this seem like your total run-of-the-mill teenage comedy. I’ve gotten use to false marketing by now (ample amounts each year), in a way, though, the surprise was so much more gratifying.
Stephen Chbosky has adapted his own book, he wrote and directed. This is easily the biggest strength the movie has. I’ve never thought this would be a good idea, but it worked exceptionally well in this case. He understands his material and has an instinctive understanding of how to show a lot while saying as little as possible. This works wonders for the characters. It’s rare when a big-budget movie gets to be directed by someone who has never done it before. It’s easy to say having seen it, but still, no other director could have pulled this off. Chbosky does an outstanding job. He understands the material and adds countless elements to a story that could have been one dimensional. The story in nutshell, is about a freshmen entering high school (don’t want to say anything more). Here, a lot of similar situations are touched on, but they feel different in Chbosky’s hands. I also love how the time period isn’t given much thought because the story can be told in any. Camera work could have been a tad better; it didn’t ever become a major problem, though.
The screenplay is remarkable. One of the best things the script does is flesh out characters. You feel something for all the characters, all their emotions fly of the screen. When someone is hurt, happy, confused, or anything, it isn’t cheesy. It’s genuine and you feel the emotions as well without being manipulated. Another great thing about the characters is their relationships – don’t just mean that in the sense of dating. Charlie and Sam is the key one, however; it can be heartbreaking beautiful at times. So many themes are weaved into everything. Honestly, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of the most complex movies I’ve seen in the past year or two. Great lines are in large supply; they kept on coming and coming.
I’ve always liked Logan Lerman. He’s never really had the chance to shine; my favorite performance from him was in 3:10 to Yuma. Everything after that has been bland and felt heavily recycled. Finally, though, a perfect role and material come together along with his great performance. Couldn’t imagine anyone else playing Charlie now; easily Lerman’s all-time best. Emma Watson nails her first post Harry Potter project – wasn’t expecting a performance of this magnitude. All the right notes were hit, especially the emotional ones. I loved Ezra Miller in We Need to Talk About Kevin; such a chilling role and he just ran with it. Ever since then I was eager to see where he went from there. It was a pretty big surprise when I found out he was in a movie totally different than his previous work. Versatility was definitely proved. Miller has delivered two perfect performances back to back. Mae Whitman, Paul Rudd, Kate Walsh, Johnny Simmons, Dylan McDermott, and all the supporting cast do a wonderful job.
The soundtrack is one of the better ones I’ve heard in a good while; joins Juno, (500) Days of Summer, Rushmore, and a few others in my all-time favorites. Yes, they are great to listen to, but they also enhance the scene. I hate when movie just throw songs into a certain scene with no reason whatsoever.
When the credits started up, I had to sit through them. It didn’t have anything to do with the fact that I wanted to see them, or loved the song. As soon as it ended, it was mulling over in my head. By the end of the credits, my only thought was, “wow.” The Perks of Being a Wallflower is just one powerhouse of a movie. It has everything, it’s entertaining, funny, dark, sad, deep, and insightful, hits you emotionally, and really resonates with you. Overall, this is easily one of my favorite movies of 2012. The more I think about though, might just be my number one. There is just something about it that hasn’t kept it off my mind ever since I initially saw it (seen it twice). The Perks of Being a Wallflower better not be a wallflower when it comes award time.
Charlie: “So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how could that be.”