, Newburyport, MA

September 30, 2012

'Perks of Being a Wallflower' tackles adolescent topics

By Greg Vellante Correspondent
Newburyport Daily News

---- — “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” has this great strength: It feels real.

Circling around a group of compelling characters, the film offers emotional insights, sweet moments, and personal revelations, but never once manipulates them into misrepresentations. I believed these characters. I I knew them.

In one of the most accurate portrayals of high school in an American film, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is a movie adapted from a very popular book. The movie was written for the screen and directed by the book’s author, Steven Chbosky. And it’s a story worth telling.

“Perks” is about freshman Charlie (Logan Lerman), who enters high school after struggling with both the suicide of his best friend and a developing mental illness. Feeling alone and helpless, Charlie is a stranger at school until he comes upon a charismatic pair of senior stepsiblings, Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson), who invite him to become a part of their group.

It’s a close-knit collection of friends, this group. They have known each other for quite some time. and they welcome Charlie as one of their own almost immediately. For anybody who has ever felt left out until finally being accepted, this will ring true; especially for anyone who has ever struggled with emotions like Charlie’s.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” speaks in depth about a wide variety of adolescent topics — loneliness, young love, closeted homosexuality. Not once does the film feel forced or heavy-handed. And yet, it’s remarkably candid. When the movie finally reaches its emotional payoff, it works because the film has earned them. By the end, the characters feel as real as everybody else in the cinema.

While the material is strong, the true appeal comes from the film’s talented trio of young actors. Lerman perfectly embodies the unstable Charlie. As his love interest Sam, Emma Watson follows up her “Harry Potter” years with absolute ease. The highlight is Ezra Miller as Patrick, a gay, flamboyant and fragile character.

Miller delivers this performance with astounding gravity. Following up his terrifying turn as the titular problem child in “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” he’s almost unrecognizable. (Note: There are signs of a chameleon-like actor we should all keep a close eye on here.)

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower treats its characters with respect and delicate examination. It draws up comparisons to themes sung by The Beatles, reminding us that all we need is love and a little help from our friends.