Once in a blue moon comes along a film that is so poignant and endearing that even after leaving the hallowed cinema hall, the story and it’s characters stick to you.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is exactly that.
Based on Stephen Chbosky’s bestselling book, the coming of age film begins with the introspective and kind-hearted Charlie writing a letter to his anonymous friend “If you met me you wouldn’t think I was the weird kid who spent time in hospital.”
The film tells the story of the adolescent Charlie (played by Logan Lerman) who is about to start his first year at high school. Charlie has gone through some difficulties in his young life, suffering through trauma, deaths of loved ones and some time in hospital. A self-proclaimed wallflower, he never feels like he fits in, until he meets the vivacious Sam (Emma Watson) and her quirky stepbrother Patrick (Ezra Miller) who invite him into their “Island of misfit toys”.
Logan Lerman is fantastic at capturing the temperament of Charlie and combining the troubled past of his character with the optimistic hopes for his upcoming days. Emma Watson brings a convincing American accent and delivers a performance that shows her flexibility as an actress. Ezra Miller also deserves praise for his mesmerizing portrayal as the gay Patrick who is in love with a boy who cannot accept his sexuality.
The book is famous for making notable references to music, literature and popular culture and references to The Beatles, The Smiths and novels such as The Catcher in the Rye, On the Road and To Kill a Mockingbird (Charlie is gifted these novels by his English teacher) add a nostalgic dimension to the story.
Several book-to-screen adaptations become the victim of being Hollywood-ised, which would have been a tragedy with The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Thankfully, Chbosky saved this adaptation and captured the rawness and sincerity of his story very well with its candid narrative and slightly irregular plot execution that works like the novel does. The film doesn’t feel shy from dealing with issues such as mental health, sexuality, bullying and sexual abuse.
Although set in the early 1990s, the story and the characters resemble a modernity that makes the film engaging and meaningful even over ten years after the novel’s initial publication. This nostalgic story will leave you wishing you could ride through a tunnel with your arms in the air as your favourite music plays, feeling “infinite”