Being a teenager can be awkward, filled with awkward people and awkward situations. Typical coming of age stories often paint idealistic pictures of teenagers who easily find their place in society. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is different.
Stephen Chboskys 1999 novel of the same title has received acclaim for its realistic depiction of teenage years. The 2012 movie adaptation, directed by the author, provides a visual understanding true to the ups and downs of being an adolescent.
Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a freshman with a history of hospitalization and little social interaction outside of his family. Case in point, the first new friend he makes in high school is his English teacher, Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd). But he still struggles to fit in by attending football games, dances and other social events. And this is where he meets Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson), two seniors who draw him out into the real world the world of parties, drugs, reckless driving, good music and heartbreak. But through this journey, Charlie comes to understand various kinds of love, not only by building relationships with his new friends but watching the relationships that are built around him, like a wallflower, and he comes to love himself for who he is.
High school movies highlight the differences in cliques: the jocks, the popular kids, the smart kids/nerds, etc. Perks realistically depicts how all these groups interact with each other, and how the individuals within these groups have their own struggles. Patrick, for instance, is a gay 1980s high school student entangled in a relationship with the star quarterback, who is the son of the local Catholic priest. Sam has been with all the guys around the block and chases after the wrong boys. Chbosky does not wrap up these problems with a nice bow but illustrates how students deal with them for the better and also for the worse.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower also stands out above the crowd of high school movies because of the emotional honesty of the actors. We see Emma Watsons evolution from the book-smart Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films to the SAT-failing Sam, who learns to pick herself up from her bootstraps. The same for Logan Lerman, whose vulnerability as Charlie is the guiding light of Perks. And while all of these characters have their own struggles, I think Id like to have been included in this friend group during my years in high school.