The Perks of Being a Wallflower
You Gotta Have Friends
by Brian Palmer
Logan Lehman plays a high school freshman with a lot of sorting out to do in The Perks of Being a Wall flower. (Photo by: John Bramley, © 2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.)
High school is hard enough to begin with, but as Stephen Chbosky demonstrated in his 1999 novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower—which he has adapted for the screen and directs—it is impossible to get through if you do not have friends.
Charlie (Logan Lerman), an incoming freshman at a suburban Pittsburgh high school, is still reeling from the recent suicide of his only friend, Michael. Given to introversion and unable to relate with others, he avoids his parents, tries not to let depression swallow him whole, and writes letters to an anonymous friend as his only way of coping.
Emma Watson, Logan Lehman, and Ezra Miller in The Perks of Being a Wall flower. (Photo by: John Bramley, © 2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.)
Two seniors—step-siblings Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller)—take him under their wing, introduce him to their circle of friends, and help introduce him to the real world. Along the way, Charlie awkwardly navigates his way through the worlds of love, drugs, sex, music, abuse, self-discovery, and all the uncertainty any 14-year-old goes through when trying to sort out who he is.
Charlie (Logan Lehman) shares the holidays with friends in The Perks of Being a Wall flower. (Photo by John Bramley, © 2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.)
Relationships are key to the power of this stunning story. Charlie is not only befriended by two “misfits” and their friends, but he genuinely grows to love and need them. When he falls in love with Sam along the way, it’s not surprising, and you root for the connection to happen.
Lerman, Watson, and Miller all give incredible performances in this film, with Lerman in particular being the glue that holds it together. The lens through which Lerman’s character views all of these new experiences helps make his journey shocking, beautiful, tragic, and joyous. He takes in everything in a beautifully awkward manner, accepting situations and people for what they are without judging them, and tries to learn how to deal with the sometimes harsh realities of life. Whether struggling with his feelings for Sam, blaming himself for his aunt’s death, or harboring a secret that is an even deeper source of pain, Lerman is riveting.
Sam (Emma Watson) in The Perks of Being a Wall flower. (Photo by John Bramley, © 2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.)
Watson sheds her Hermione Granger image with a moving portrayal of a lost girl who has searched for love in all the wrong places, while Miller’s outward façade of irreverence and frivolity masks a deep-seated pain about being gay in a society that does not accept him.
Logan Lehman, Ezra Miller, and Emma Watson in The Perks of Being a Wall flower. (Photo by John Bramley, © 2011 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.)
You believe every moment of ecstasy this trio feels, loathe every bad decision they make, and struggle with them as they try to discover their destinies. Wallflower is more than just another teen movie—it’s a quintessential story about being a teenager in America, and it needs to be seen to be believed. A-
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