Film: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The cast/crew bit: written & directed by Stephen Chbosky, starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson & Ezra Miller

The ten-word synopsis: Sad, lonely teenager makes friends. Angst by the bucketload ensures.

You can tell a lot about a film by it’s choice of Smiths song on the soundtrack. Shaun of the Dead goes for Panic- a jaunty but heartfelt piece, a bit of a rush, with contrasts rife throughout, with elements that logic dictates shouldn’t slot together instead melding wonderfully. (500) Days of Summer picks There is a Light That Never Goes Out. Passionate, tragic and yet oddly upbeat and charming. The Perks of Being a Wallflower plumps for Asleep- perhaps the musical embodiment of the depressing reputation that Morrissey, Marr & co have garnered over the years. There are moments in which this seems a perfect fit. There’s some wonderfully well-observed and well-realised moments, some that are genuinely moving, and some that are worthy of the line “Deep in the cell of my heart I will be so glad to go”. However, it’s hard to pin this joyless, if slightly beautiful, song on Perks, as it is -If you’re wiling to pretend the following sentence makes sense- a song about the upside of loneliness and depression, much as the majority of The Smiths’ cannon is, and, far as I’m concerned, that’s a pretty huge accolade I’ve just pinned on the films’ proud lapel.

I’m a big fan of the films’ cast. Logan Lerman was actually alright in the awful-but-endearing Percy Jackson movie, Emma Watson grew film-on-film as Hermione Granger and I’ve previously waved Ezra Miller as one of the finest young actors America has to offer, especially after his terrific turn in last years’ We Need To Talk About Kevin. Lerman is the real stand-out, providing an emotionally-charged display that struck a chord with, presumably, not just myself but anybody else who has any level of experience of what it is like to cast aside. Miller, however, does threaten to steal the show in every scene he’s in. A really engaging young actor, he’s a joy to watch as Charlies’ new-found best friend, Patrick, who is gay in every sense of the word. While he has received some criticism for his larger-than-life performance, it’s mixed up with some emotional scenes, and does provide genuine relief, comic or otherwise, from some of the films’ more tragically minded individuals.

There’s a few interesting subplots developing throughout the course of the film. One involves Charlies’ aunt, which is well-plotted and realised. Another centres around a young American Footballer, played by Scott Pilgrims’ Johnny Simmons. While I couldn’t believe Young Neil would ever be a popular sporty type, and he hardly gets any lines, I felt Simmons was quite impressive, performing the opposite physical performance to the one he put in in Edgar Wrights’ action-romcom masterpiece. Speaking of Scott Pilgrim, Mae Whitman (AKA Evil Ex No. 4, Roxie Richter) also pops up and puts in a solid performance as the Token Chatty Annoying Goth Girl. She gets a tad irritating, but then she has to, it’s in her character, so something would be wrong if she didn’t, to be fair. Emma Watson is pretty good as the love interest character, and was apparently doing a pretty good American accent according to others I’ve spoken to, but, to be honest, I didn’t notice she wasn’t talking in her usual Hermione-tastic voice. Regardless, at no stage during the film did I think about the character of Ms Granger in the same way seeing, say, Daniel Radcliffe in The Woman in Black made me think of Harry, so that’s an impressive feat of Watsons’ on her own. In fact, despite the Percy/Hermione/Kevin cast being one of the films’ main selling points on paper, at no stage did I think of any of those three movies, and, as such, credit must be given. (Although, that said, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World did come to mind a couple of times, especially after one joke lifted from the comics appeared, but at least eight times less funny)

The film is a bit funny, and a bit witty, and a bit upbeat. Perhaps the melancholia does flood on like a wave of neverending solitude and misery, but look beyodnt hat and there’s plenty of charm dripping from the screen. Asleep may be a wonderfully composed piece to slit your wrists to, but I’d put The Perks of Being a Wallflower closer to Girlfirend in a Coma. Perhaps the subject matter is bleak, but it’s witty and endearing, and I’m more than willing to have it played.

6 audience members scratching their heads trying to figure out how none of the main cast have heard of Bowie out of 10

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