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Oct. 1, 2012

All "Perks," no problems

by Sarika Ramaswamy, Staff Writer
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" transforms you from a wallflower into one of the "misfit toys" that befriend Charlie (Logan Lerman) in this different, darker take on the classic coming-of-age story. Director Stephen Chbosky, who wrote both the original novel and the screenplay for the movie, truly brings the characters we fell for in the book to life.

The Perks for being a wallflower

(released August 28, 2012)
The movie poster for "The Perks for being a Wallflower." Courtesy of Spark Notes
Chips Rating:
4.5 stars

User Rating:
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The title card for "The Perks for being a Wallflower."
Instead of the usual high-school flick traversing such topics as popularity and partying, "Perks" goes much deeper into the problems that the characters face. Charlie, who has experienced emotional trauma since his best friend committed suicide in eighth grade, is a shy freshman whose only friend is his journal. His life changes when he meets seniors Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson), who accept Charlie into their group of eccentric but steadfast friends. Over the year, Patrick, Sam, and the others bring Charlie new experiences and adventures that draw him out of his wallflower shell.

Charlie is a Holden Caulfield-type character he observes the experiences of others around him and the pain he sees brings him sadness like the joy he sees brings him happiness. Because he "plays" a wallflower, Lerman must express his emotion with little dialogue, mostly through action and facial expression. Lerman is phenomenal in this task. When Lerman looks sad, we feel like bawling and when he looks happy, we feel like patting him on the back.

Miller is effortlessly hilarious, offering light one-liners in a movie that encompasses many dark themes. Along with Miller, Lerman, and Watson, the movie's all-star cast includes Paul Rudd, Nina Dobrev, Mae Whitman, and Joan Cusack.

Viewers might hold expectations for Watson, in her first main role since the last Harry Potter installment, and Lerman, made famous for his depiction as a pretty-boy Percy Jackson. However, both actors prove perfect fits for their parts, and Watson even manages to put on a convincing American accent.

Like in every book-movie adaptation, Chbosky is forced to cut out parts of the book, but he manages to retais the same messages of the novel. All of his choices in filming, costumes, and music achieve the desired indie-vibe and add to the quirkiness of the characters. Subtlety is key in the film. Most of the serious topics, such as drug use, alcohol consumption, and abuse are not approached outright but are all the same fully developed and discussed through sensational audio and visual decisions.

"Perks" is not about saying "no" to drugs, alcohol, bullying, and abuse the film acknowledges that these are issues present in everyone's lives. Rather, "Perks" shows us that the only thing we can do is get through our problems, and Charlie, Patrick, and Sam teach us to appreciate the people who help us along the way and make the moments infinite.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, drug and alcohol use, sexual content including reference, and a fight - all involving teens. Now playing at Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema, Landmark E Street Cinema, and AMC Loews Georgetown 14. Playing everywhere Oct. 5.

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