Director: Stephen Chbosky
Starring: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Paul Rudd
Release Date: October 3rd
It is rare that a film is adapted from a book as well as Perks of Being a Wallflower has been here. It is more unusual still that the film was written and directed by the author of the book, Stephen Chbosky. He has pulled it off almost seamlessly however, treading a very thin line incredibly well, managing not to become overly-precious about his book, but at the same time, not losing the book in the dramatics of cinema,
Perks is a book which left a mark on so many teenagers when they first read it, portraying the awkwardness that most teens go through at some point in a way that so many people could relate to, and the film manages not only to capture those same feelings and experiences, but watching the film feels eerily like reading the book for the first time. It takes you on a full emotional rollercoaster, and it immerses you in such a way, you almost forget you’re even watching a film.
It’s very clear that a large part of this is down to Chbosky’s magnificent script, and the fact that he is able to bring his characters to life so unmistakeably because he knows them inside out. However, the cast seemingly couldn’t be better-chosen. While perhaps Logan Lerman (The Three Muskateers), Emma Watson (Harry Potter) and Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin) could have been seen as a little too beautiful to portray such broken, dark, socially-awkward souls, they manage to slip into their characters with incredible ease. They are so believable in fact, that Watson’s Hermione Granger days don’t even occur to you while watching; no mean feat with such a long-running series behind her. Paul Rudd also deserves praise for his, granted much smaller, part. As Charlie’s (Lerman) English teacher, he shares some beautiful moments with the protagonist, which comes somewhat unexpected from such a played-down character in the film.
The coming-of-age story is so tired at this stage, there is not much more you can possibly hope to add to it as a film-maker, and Perks certainly breaks no real new ground. There’s the slutty girl, the quiet guy with the crush, the closeted gay student with his equally closeted jock boyfriend, the bullies and as many other stereotypes as the genre has to offer. It is perhaps, a tired story, but Perks manages to tell it in small, thoughtful and rather lovely ways, and it is that, along with the constant underlying darkness, which sets it apart. It comes without the condescension that often accompanies films in this genre, and manages to stay touching and witty, throughout.
In a Nutshell: Painful and elating; everything the book is and quite possibly more.