The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The word ‘cynical’ has often been applied to my bitter review of action movies and romantic comedies. I don’t like to think of myself as a cynical person, but other people seem to enjoy it. But I was determined to put my natural cynicism aside to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and, in hindsight, that decision was remarkably prudent. Wallflower is a film that requires you to get on-board with its acceptance of cliché and One Tree Hilllike tendency to over dramatize teenage life. If you can get past those potential stumbling blocks then the film is a fine, sweet hearted, lightly comic teenage drama that doesn’t pull its punches as much as you might expect it to.

At the centre of the film is Logan Lerman’s adolescent Charlie, who’s been through a difficult couple of years, to say the least. I have a feeling that I might have made disparaging comments about Lerman on Twitter at some point but I take them back. He is a very natural and affecting centre to the film and has a good deal of innate screen presence. The charisma of the film comes in the form of Ezra Miller (so good in We Need to Talk About Kevin, so irritating in every interview) as the gay best friend and self-confessed social pariah. His half-sister and partner in crime is played by Emma Watson, fulfilling her role as High School fantasy girl who is, shock horror, not out and out cool but sort of kooky. She does the Titanic thing on a moving car, for example.

There’s little dramatic heft to be found outside this central trio, although orbiting planets do occasionally get sucked in without a particularly standout moment (although Logan’s deer in headlights look as he’s being undressed by a Buddhist Goth is pretty good). But there’s plenty of interest to be found at the heart of the film and the final revelation, which might or might not have been insinuated throughout, is kind of shocking, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the book. In fact, there would be some genuine power here, if it could be delivered with a bit more subtlety and a sharper pen. Still, if you’ve put your cynicism aside then there’s plenty to start crying about.

A film that takes itself seriously but ought not to be blamed too much for that. Sweet, funny and with an interesting trio of performances.

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Starring: Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, Emma Watson, Paul Rudd, Nina Dobrev
Running Time: About an hour and 40 minutes
Certificate: 12a

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