The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
by: Lorena Sander
October 1, 2012
Stephen Chbosky wrote and directed this film adaptation of his own book, and Perks definitively feels like a writer’s movie; Except for a very efficient use of flashback, there are no visual surprises. Lovingly cast and rendered, its main concern is tone and mood.
High school memoirs, even fictionalized ones, often suffer from being too articulate – teenage recollection edited and glossed over with an adult’s hindsight for the sake of more compelling story telling. But Perks has real emotions at stake that keeps it from delving, head first, into teenage melodrama.
Logan Lerman, the titular wallflower, gives a rolling boil of a performance, and has a neck that blushes on cue. Emma Watson and Ezra Miller play his foils – people who, despite their young age, have been there, done that, and do not recoil at depth or emotion. The trio sells the central premise of this movie: the kindness of strangers is what turns them into friends. Paul Rudd and Joan Cusack, two extremely talented and under appreciated actors, give brief performances that eventually push the eponymous wallflower into the larger world, and sets him in good stead for what he wants to become. Perks is unlikely to become part of the teenage movie cannon, but it is a lovely, if somewhat unambitious film that will speak to people who grew up to appreciate the burden of excessive insightfulness they carried in high school.