Writer and director Stephen Chbosky’s adaptation of his own novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a defining and profound portrayal of the emotional treachery of adolescence and youthful desires. The film distinctly brings back those cringe-worthy memories that we’ve all experienced at some point in our high school years such as humiliation, awkwardness, hormones, anxiety, and social disconnect. In the same vein of a John Hughes teenage drama, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is honest and emotionally powerful film that reminds us of all of those cringe-worthy memories of high school but also doesn’t fail to remind us that the people we meet when we’re young can shape our entire lives.
Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a shy high school freshman who aspires to become a writer. Although he’s intelligent, he finds himself struggling internally after a personal tragedy. The emotional pain he has endured and continues to endure causes a friction between him self and the world in which he inhabits. He enters his first day of high school with blurry expectations and fails to forge any connections with his peers. Due to his awkwardness, he attracts negative attention from fellow students who go out of their way to make Charlie’s day a little worse. He becomes a bit more disconnected as the days go on. He walks nervously down the school’s hallway, sits alone in the cafeteria, and tries not to speak aloud in class even during the most appropriate time to do so.
At a Friday night football game, everything changes for Charlie when he meets the fearless Patrick (Ezra Miller) and his beautiful free-spirited stepsister named Sam (Emma Watson). Patrick and Sam are both high school seniors who are cool, rebellious, intelligent, and have good taste in vintage tunes. Patrick and Sam see something in Charlie and invite him to hang out with them. As they drive around in an old pick-up truck with the windows down, the three of them discover common interests. Perhaps for the first time in his entire life, Charlie feels as if he belongs. Soon after their first night out together, Charlie is introduced to their close-knit tribe of friends and finds the acceptance he’s been looking for. As he becomes comfortable around his new friends, Charlie starts to develop strong feelings for Sam.
It still floors me that this is Stephen Chbosky’s directorial debut. He has never directed anything before, not even a commercial or a music video. Clearly he is so passionate about his novel that he stepped up to write not only the screenplay but to take over duties as the director. The main part of the reason the film works on an emotional level, besides Chbosky’s fantastic screenplay and direction, are the performances by the three lead actors. Logan Lerman has appeared in several films in the last few years but has never showcased more promise as an actor before The Perks of Being a Wallflower. His performance as Charlie was absolutely fantastic. He brought the character to life with perfect mannerisms and body language. When he felt nervous, shy, depressed, or frustrated, those emotions became so clear and realistic that made it impossible to not connect with his character. Emma Watson has been establishing herself as a promising actress outside of Hogwarts. She is beautiful and brings charm to her character of Sam. Watson perfectly portrays Sam as this flawed but internally and externally beautiful character. Lastly, Ezra Miller nearly outshines every actor in this entire film as the flamboyant Patrick.
Before seeing The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I had expectations that the film was just going to be an entertaining coming-of-age tale. Before seeing the film, I haven’t read the book so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. The film struck an emotional chord with me because of how honest and moving the narrative is. Due to a solid screenplay and direction by author Stephen Chbosky, the film carries a lot of heavy dramatic weight and showcases some of last year’s most overlooked performances. The Perks of Being a Wallflower manages to distance itself from the more formulaic coming-of-age films by portraying real life themes such as death, sex, drugs, and loneliness. Most films centered on teenagers portray life as innocent and light. In the case of Perks, the film portrays teenage life as truthful as possible by containing a bit of authenticity.
Video (1080p Transfer in 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio): The high definition transfer of the film isn’t exactly the most impressive I’ve seen. The imagery is grainy at times but isn’t a distraction.
Audio (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1): The dialogue heavy film has a great audio track. The dialogue and the fantastic soundtrack flows out of the speakers with clarity.
The special features provided on the Blu-ray of The Perks of Being a Wallflower are presented in high definition:
- Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Stephen Chbosky
- Feature Commentary with Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Johnny Simmons, Mae Whitman, and Erin Wilhelmi.
- “Best Summer Ever” Featurette
- 13 Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Writer/Director Stephen Chbosky.
- Dailies with Optional Commentary by Writer/Director Stephen Chbosky.
- Theatrical Trailer
- Digital Copy
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
The Perks of Being a Wallflower Blu-ray contains a below average amount of special features. There are 13 deleted scenes with optional commentary (I highly recommend listening to the commentary). For all of the aspiring filmmakers out there, Stephen Chbosky offers viewers a look at some of the dailies from the production with optional commentary provided. “Best Summer Ever” is an extremely short feature detailing on the actor’s experience making the film. If you loved the film as much as I did, the Blu-ray is a worthy addition to your collection despite the lack of outstanding special features.
Showcasing fantastic performances, writing, direction, and a moving narrative, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the best film about high school since the classic 1985 film The Breakfast Club. It’s a crime that the film hasn’t received as much acclaim as some other films have. The film is bound to connect with anyone who has ever experienced the realism and hardships of adolescence.
Movie – 10/10
Picture – 8/10
Audio – 9/10
Special Features – 7/10
Click here to purchase The Perks of Being a Wallflower on Blu-ray/Digital Copy/UltraViolet Digital Copy.
The Blu-ray was released on February 12th, 2013.