The Perks of Being A Wallflower (2012)

I absolutely loved the book The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, so I was apprehensive about seeing the film version. On the one hand the cast and trailer looked promising, on the other side sometimes a film just can’t live up to a book you love.

The story follows Charlie (Logan Lerman), a nervous and socially awkward freshman starting high school. Shy and quiet, he doesn’t fit in with the rest of his classmates. However things look up when he meets seniors Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson), outcasts who welcome Charlie into his world.

It was a relief that the film is a faithful adaptation of the book. The tone keeps the coming of age darkly comic-drama of the novel.  As music was a big part of the book I’m glad that soundtrack for the movie is great. Whether it’s seeing Charlie socialising and dancing to Come on Eileen to Sam standing in the back of a pickup truck while listen to Heroes, it’s brilliantly scored.

The actors manage to capture the spirit of the characters perfectly. The central trio of Miller, Watson and Lerman make for believable friends and are relatable characters. Miller manages to bring out Patrick’s flamboyant nature but also show his vulnerability. Watson sheds off Hermione and proves she’s got a bright acting future ahead of her. Sam could easily have been nudged into Manic Dream Pixie Girl territory but Watson balances the sadness and the wild spirit within.  Special praise must go to Lerman who gives a sensitive portrayal of Charlie. He is able to be sympathetic and also pulls off the moments of darkness that we see nearer the end of the movie.

Of course adapting the novel into a 103 minutes movie means that some elements of the movie get distilled. Charlie’s friend who committed suicide just before the events of the movie barely gets mentioned. While I found the movie emotional I did not cry like I did while reading the book, as it went into more detail regarding Charlie’s family and meant the revelations climax were more powerful than the movie was. However Lerman is fantastic in the final 20 minutes of the movie.

Fans of the book shouldn’t be disappointed in this adaptation. Hopefully it will also appeal to newcomers who are looking for a slightly darker coming of age story.

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