Perks of Being a Wallflower (Review)


With films like Mean Girls, Clueless, Easy A and even High School Musical parading the idea of a high school experience with its very wrong stereotypes, it’s refreshing to finally get a movie that demonstrates an accurate understanding of the topic. 

 With well deserved critical acclaim, the 2012 The Perks Of Being A Wallflower written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, captures the unspoken truth of a genuine high school experience. The film follows Charlie, played by Logan Lerman, who is an introverted high school freshman dealing with past trauma. As Charlie navigates his first week of high school he connects with two seniors, Sam, played by Emma Watson, and Patrick, played by Ezra Miller. It isn’t until Charlie meets them that he starts his journey to find himself again.

Touching people’s hearts and minds, the film includes serious topics like suicide, mental health, depression, and homophobia. Chbosky however, portrays these themes with care and respect to make it most relatable for the viewer. Throughout the movie, Charlie encounters these topics and the film shows the seriousness of them and the effect they have on people. For instance, Charlie, drunk and on accident, finds out that Patrick is secretly gay. However, Chbosky does not let Patrick be a victim for being found out;, instead, he embraces the character and entitles Patrick to fearlessness and strength. 

Not only are there serious themes, but exceptional acting performances by Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller. Lerman delivers a reputable and authentic portrayal of a teenager suffering with mental issues and social anxiety without overdoing it or making it seem like they’re issues you can fit in your back pocket and forget about. Watson, coming from her memorable role as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter, shed her image outstandingly when performing the free-spirited and independent personality of Sam. Miller, being only 17 yrs old when filming, accomplished an exceptional performance as well. He acted with all the character a charismatic extrovert should have using his loud facial e expressions and movements which brought Patrick to life. All together though, these actors synergistically work with each other, making the relationship of their interactions seem tangible. They can be both funny and enjoyable but also serious if ever necessary. 

Along with great acting and ideas, great music was an unforgettable part of this movie.  . MusicMusic was a must have for this movie. Throughout the film you hear rock, pop and even jazz music and with the song, comes a fitting scene. For example, when Charlie was at the school dance, playing in the background was the song “Come on Eileen” by Save Ferris. It’s an upbeat song that brings Charlie to the dance floor after being on the sidelines. The song is perfect for the scene as it sets the mood of fun feeling for the viewer that the characters are also feeling and it even makes sense with the lyrics “Come on Eileen” as if saying “Come on Charlie.”

The cinematography in this movie is precise and methodical. Charlie’s tunnel scene, a fan favorite, captures exactly that. Towards the end of the film, you have Charlie standing in the back of a pickup truck with Sam in shotgun and Patrick driving. In the background, you can hear Charlie narrating what he is feeling and what he is thinking. The scene also captures the spirit of being a teenager when Charlie puts his hands high in the air and the wind is pushing against his clothes as they sway like a cape behind him. It symbolizes the rebellion and freedom a teenager goes through. Also, multiple, if not all, of the shots are close up to Charlie’s face to centralize what he is feeling and even the tunnel itself envelopes him in the moment with its spotlights shining on Charlie as he believes that he is completely “infinite.” As he reaches the end of the tunnel, it symbolizes him finally discovering and accepting himself. Some could say it was a portrayal of the well-known saying “finding the light at the end of the tunnel.” 

Overall, the movie completely opposes the Hollywood standard idea of high school and unfortunately, the real world is not all singing and dancing.