Film Review: ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’

perks of being a wallflower

By Emma Groome

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – directed and written by Stephen Chbosky.

Certificate: 12A

Run time: 102 mins

Rating: 4/5 stars.

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

Based on the best-selling novel by Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower captures the dizzying highs and crushing lows of growing up. Starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller,  the film is a moving tale of love, loss, fear, hope ‒ and the unforgettable friends that get us through it all.

As I queued to buy my ticket, I was starting to doubt whether it was really worth shelling out £6.40 for what would most likely be another rendition of the American high-school coming-of-age movie that we’ve all seen a million times before. As I sat down to watch the film, I quickly realized that The Perks of Being a Wallflower is indeed an American high-school coming-of-age movie, but one that is like nothing I’ve experienced before.

Many people have criticised the film for being too clichéd and lacking originality, but these people are missing the point. By definition, the film cannot be original, as it so heart-achingly recounts the rites of passage which we all experience in some way or other. It’s true that it has everything you’d expect from this genre; from the football games to the fights in the cafeteria, from the high-school dance, to the first kiss. However, it’s the approach to all these things that marks it above every other film of its niche.

The leading trio of Lerman, Miller, and Watson portrayed their characters with such care and conviction that I couldn’t help but be immersed in their world, or as Watson’s character Sam refers to it, “the island of misfit toys”. Miller certainly stole the show as the sassy, dauntless, and outrageous Patrick. The three play their roles so effortlessly that I could find little to fault in any of them.

Chbosky directs just as carefully as he writes, with an eye for detail that is truly flawless. He eschews the big production that is so typical of today’s film, leaving the raw acting in centre stage, along with an awe-inspiring sound track which accompanies the cinematography perfectly.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is truly definitive; of life, of love, and of growing up. It can, and should, be seen by anyone and everyone. It is not only for those who are in the midst of adolescence, but for those older it is a reminder of what it feels like to be young. As Charlie articulates it at the end of the film:

“I know there are people who say all these things don’t happen. And there are people who forget what it’s like to be 16 when they turn 17. I know these will all be stories someday. And our pictures will become old photographs. We’ll all become somebody’s mom or dad. But right now these moments are not stories. This is happening.”

Photography: Alexandra Tinder on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

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