Despite some glaring anachronistic flaws, outstanding performances by scene-stealer Ezra Miller and a nuanced Emma Watson make Stephen Chbosky’s film adaptation of his book “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” worth watching.
Wallflower and high school freshman Charlie (Logan Lerman) is recovering from a dark period he endured during the 1990s. His late Aunt Helen (Melanie Lynskey), with whom he shared a dark and inappropriately intimate secret, haunts him years after her death. He’s also haunted by memories of a friend who committed suicide. And now Charlie is about to enter the hallowed and hellish halls of a new school.
Preferring to blend into the scenery, Charlie is encouraged to engage with his peers by English teacher Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd). He makes friends with queer senior Patrick (Miller) and, in turn, Patrick’s stepsister Sam (Watson). The kid who preferred solitude, reading and writing suddenly finds himself in a series of social situations that he never could have predicted.
With increased social acceptance comes responsibility. Some things he masters, such as keeping secrets (including walking in on Patrick kissing one of the football team’s stars). But he struggles with other social graces, including how to break up with a girl – he has the bad judgment to do it during a game of Truth or Dare. Charlie also falls in love with the lovable Sam, who’s only interested in older guys.
As Charlie blossoms, he finds himself unable to cope with his newfound social status. In his struggles, he learns about the power and value of friendships. Far from a perfect movie, “Wallflower” nonetheless offers enough perks to make it worthwhile.