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Film Review: The perks of being a wallflower

Jonathan Crean

Although it bares its roots in the clichéd coming-of-age category, The Perks of Being a Wallflower sets itself apart by offering up a sincere, witty, and at times mesmerising slice of teenage life.

Logan Lerman plays Charlie, a bright but troubled adolescent whose social life is stagnant. A letter he writes to an unspecified friend portrays his feelings about his turbulent past and hopes that high school will offer him a chance to start fresh.

Charlie quickly befriends a flamboyant senior called Patrick (Ezra Miller), his alluring step-sister Sam (Emma Watson) and their circle of friends known as “The Island of Misfit Toys”.

Suddenly Charlie is submersed in a world full of parties, girls and good times. He feels understood, accepted and at home.

Adapted from his own novel, director Stephen Chbosky perfectly captures that dizzying incandescent atmosphere associated with teenage life and our memories of it.

The time period is never made explicit, although motifs such as handwritten letters, mixed tapes and the characters’ obsession with bands like the Smiths and Dexy’s Midnight Runners suggest the film is set in the early Nineties.

Regarding substance, this film does not disappoint. Themes of love, friendship, mental health, homosexuality and child abuse are all addressed.

Besides a shaky start Emma Watson does well to assert herself post-Potter. She plays Sam, a captivatingly deep character with a troubled past. People who remember her as the bookish Hermione Granger will be in for a surprise.

Ezra Miller’s performance as outspoken, homosexual senior Patrick is a memorable one. Miller’s character is not just present for comic relief; instead he acts as an off-centred catalyst to the plot.

Logan Lerman is believable and endearing. Although outshone in relation to charisma his character is one we truly feel sympathy for.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a solid crack at a road well-travelled and a neatly wrapped gift for the pensive and the sentimental type.

**** – Four stars

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