Directed and written by “Perks” novelist Stephen Chbosky, the film follows these characters and their friends through all the rituals of a school year in suburban Pittsburgh. He features heavy use of voice-over early on, as Charlie narrates the letters he writes to a mysterious, unseen recipient, but there's also great delicacy in the characters' intimate interactions.
Charlie is more unstable and unsure of himself than the average entering freshman following the suicide of his best friend. The death messed him up, and it marked him by association. Maybe Patrick and Sam recognize his outsider status in themselves; in no time, the three are inseparable. The film takes place in a hazy sort of late-'80s, early-'90s time frame — no one has a cellphone, and mix tapes are a crucial medium for expressing teen angst — which adds to its feeling of universality. The melancholy “Asleep” by The Smiths appears so prominently, it's practically a character itself.
Charlie is very much along for the ride with these crazy older kids, including Mae Whitman as the self-described Buddhist/punk rocker who thrusts herself upon him and insists she's his girlfriend. But memories haunt him of something ugly that happened in his childhood, until he finally unravels in a third-act scene that allows Lerman to bust out, show some range and reveal he can really, truly act.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” may not do anything groundbreaking, but it tells a familiar story in small, thoughtful ways.
— Christy Lemire,
The Associated Press
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‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower'
Starring: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Mae Whitman. (Mature thematic material, drug and alcohol use, sexual content including references and a fight — all involving teens)