By Forrest Hartman
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, drug and alcohol use, sexual content including references, and a fight – all involving teens
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray, on demand and pay-per-view
Few coming-of-age films are as thoughtful, poignant and carefully crafted as writer-director Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” Adapting the movie from his own epistolary novel, Chbosky brings his characters to brilliant life, fully involving the audience in their emotional upheavals.
The primary focus is on Charlie (Logan Lerman), a withdrawn high school freshman who has no friends. That changes when he meets Sam (Emma Watson) and her step-brother Patrick (Ezra Miller), two seniors who are proud to call themselves outsiders. Sensing that Charlie needs companionship, they initiate the underclassman into their unique group, and the three become tight.
As the movie plays out, each of the major characters faces ups and downs related to relationships, bullying and other traditional high school struggles. There are also subplots related to less typical problems, including sexual abuse and teen suicide.
Perhaps because of his familiarity with and love for the material, Chbosky’s cinematic adaptation is remarkable. Too often, film adaptations of books leave well-drawn literary characters feeling like empty shells, but that’s never a problem here. Charlie, Sam and Patrick have oodles of depth, and the youthful-but-seasoned cast assures that the characters are easily relatable.
It would be easy to write “Wallflower” off as one more teen film in an ever-growing and overpopulated genre, but it would be a mistake. Like Cameron Crowe’s “Say Anything,” this is a teen drama with staying power, and audiences should enjoy it for years to come.
DVD and Blu-ray extras include deleted scenes, a making-of featurette and two audio commentaries.