13 years ago, screenwriter Stephen Chbosky published The Perks of Being a Wallflower as a novel, and now he has not only adapted it for the screen, but taken it upon himself to direct it. The result is a near perfect adaptation of an already highly regarded piece of young adult fiction, and one of the best movies of the year.
Perks is a high school coming of age story about a socially awkward, but completely loveable, teen. We've seen this thousands of times with varying degrees of success, and Perks is never the film you expect it to become. Chbosky clearly knows how to treat his young adult demographic with respect -- Perks is a very mature film that is constantly juggling extremely dark themes.
Protagonist Charlie (Logan Lerman) is starting his first year of high school with no friends and a rather traumatic past. He befriends two seniors, Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson). Like Charlie, the are outcasts, but they've learned to enjoy standing in the sidelines.
There are perks to being a wallflower.
The characters are forced to deal with hard hitting issues and themes beyond their years, including mental illness, sexual abuse and death. While it never becomes too dark, at times it’s uncomfortable. Everything is handled with a boyish smile, largely due to Lerman's superb performance.
Every single member of the cast is incredible. Emma Watson is given the least to do, but she will still bring you to tears and I wouldn’t hesitate to call Ezra Miller a scene stealer, after a stunning performance filled with copious energy and fun.
Lerman captures what it's really like to be a socially awkward young adult. There are even small traces of what might be autism. As the film progresses, Charlie evolves and by the start of the third act, Logan Lerman's performance has entirely switched gears.
At times Perks of Being a Wallflower seems pretty dark, but it never leaves you sad for too long. It juggles heartwarming moments, tearjerker scenes and hilarious comedy exceptionally well. Until the finale, where it takes one last shot at trying to tear your heart out as Charlie is finally confronted by his past.
Perks of Being a Wallflower isn't just one of the best movies of the year, it's one of those films that will sit on your shelf watched repeatedly over the years to come.
By Brodie Marchant
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
StarringLogan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller
Length 103 minutes
MMGN movie reviews are rated out of 5 stars