Guest Post: The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) – Thoughts of JMD
I almost declined the cinema invite last night. I was not in the mood to watch another film about teenagers and their problems. I went with low expectations, hoping for at best, some creative camera work, a reasonable score and maybe one or two thought provoking lines. Basically, I was expecting the Darjeeling Express with added Emma Watson and more teenage angst. I was wrong.
Set in the early nineties, Wallflower tells the story of Charlie (Logan Lerman). He starts high school depressed and friendless, counting down the days until he graduates. Predictably and early on in the film, he falls in with a crowd of misfits. Through his interactions with his new friends we learn more about Charlie’s depression and come to understand what it is he means about feeling sad and happy at once. He is happy to have made friends with Patrick (Ezra Millar) and Sam (Emma Watson) but he also struggles to cope with their unhappiness as he feels their troubles as if they were his own. This film is both very sad and very uplifting, an embodiment of the emotions battling within Charlie.
Lerman gives an understated performance of a shy, trouble ridden teenager, wrestling with a desire to save everyone he loves. Lerman’s portrayal really made me feel for Charlie and I found myself hoping nothing bad would happen to him. Of course smooth sailing does not often make for a good film.
I hate to sound gushing but the supporting cast are all equally brilliant. It’s easy to see how Charlie falls in love with Watson’s Sam, even though really we learn very little about her in the film. Watson does an excellent job playing Sam as both rebellious teen and social misfit. Ezma Miller playing Patrick “Nothing” is the standout performance in Wallfower. Every time he is on screen he steals the scene. His character is a bit like a more emotionally developed version of John Bender from the Breakfast Club, and I doubt I’m the only one making a comparison between the two movies.
I enjoyed Paul Rudd’s realism playing the inspirational teacher. Of course comedian turned inspirational teacher is not an uncommon career path, both Jack Black and Robin Williams have made that journey before. However with Rudd, there is no standing on desks shouting “Captain my Captain” or kidnapping an entire class of kids to take to a rock concert. Rudd is simply a teacher who notices a pupil and as Wallflower shows sometimes that is enough to make a difference. Although her time on screen is brief I feel the need to mention Joan Cusack who made what could have been a jolty ending to the film a smooth transition.
I want to say something bad about this film but nothing is coming to me. The sound track is great, as the characters keep telling us, they do have a good taste in music. There is no film that could not be improved without featuring more of The Smiths. Maybe it should have been more obvious it was the nineties, as I did wonder why everyone seemed to really like knitwear, but that is probably my own lack of cultural awareness. This film is undoubtedly one of the best films I have seen for a very long time, and really is something out of the ordinary.
JMD Rating: 9.4/10