Despite what a young girl said to me in an interview recently (did they even HAVE Schoolies when you finished school?) high school wasn’t actually that long ago for me and The Perks of Being A Wallflower brought it all rushing back. The intensity of the emotions, the finality of finishing and just caring so much about everything – music, exams, people, the future.. It was the antidote to the ‘teen movie’ formula and as refreshing as it was familiar.
Perks is based on the popular novel by Stephen Chbosky and it needs to be noted that this brilliant writer also penned the screenplay and directed the film – I respect so much his commitment to telling this story across multiple platforms and think more authors should follow his steps. It follows the freshman year of 16-year-old Charlie (Logan Lerman), an introverted young writer struggling to come to terms with his best friend’s suicide and quite a troubled past.
He soon befriends step-siblings Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson) – who give two honest and truly spectacular performances in the roles. What I absolutely loved was Miller’s subtlety in bringing so many elements of Patrick into this one perfect performance – yes he was a gay character, but being gay was not the ‘point’ of Patrick, it was just part of the subtext. It’s so easy for the ‘gay bff’ to become a bit of a caricature. There are also some fantastic supporting efforts, including Paul Rudd as the English teacher Mr Anderson and Johnny Simmons as Brad.
It hops, skips and jumps between poignant moments, from the lighthearted to the downright dark. It’s best to let this complex tale unravel before your eyes, but suffice to say Perks will make you laugh and cry, all while finding a way to tell a coming-of-age story that is new while still being so comfortable. 4.5/5 x