Curiously enough I spent most of 2012 ignoring the release of Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” Granted, the trailers for it were interesting, but they never actually sold me to the film’s potential. When I finally sat down to watch “Perks,” I was shocked to discover that the film was not only a modern masterpiece, but a completely unorthodox teen dramedy that treats its character not as niches for marketing merchandise, but as actual human beings.
Though it’s basically a PG-13 film for all intents and purposes, Stephen Chbosky’s film is an adult journey, and one that treat the world as various shades of gray and hard to decipher dilemmas that make it impossible for our characters to conquer their own personal demons. The world in “Perks” is hard to really figure out, and even in the end when we’re sure our trio of misfits may be well off, we’re never quite sure if they may make it in the world that will continue to get harder and more unforgiving when all is said and done. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is very much the romance of three individuals who find solace and love with one another in a cold and awful world.
While the film is primarily centered on the blossoming relationship of the young senior Sam, and the freshman Charlie, there’s also a wonderful bond that occurs between Sam’s openly gay brother Patrick and Charlie himself. Charlie could never quite understand what actual love is, and throughout “Perks” he tries to understand and learn what real love is, and what it can do to the people that yearn for it. Charlie is a young man with a very tortured past who has managed to not only overcome much of his demons, but also suppress them in a manner that makes other people happy, rather than himself. When he enters in to high school, he finds being invisible and almost irrelevant is easier than standing out, but when he meets the charismatic senior Patrick, and his stepsister Sam, he discovers that there are many more people out there as damaged as he is, and they teach him how to stand out and be special.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is such an understated and immense dramedy that recalls the best works of John Hughes, painting a slew of characters that are likable, and incredible, but also richly developed. Even the most insignificant individuals presented in “Perks” has their own story to tell, and Chbosky makes viewers want to know them more and more as the film progresses. Ezra Miller, who pulled in a performance as a despicable monster in “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” gives a complete turn around as the lovable and incredible charming Patrick, who spends most of his time treating life like a joke, and is never afraid to flaunt his pride as a homosexual.
Miller is immense in this film, and deserves every accolade for his turn as a character so filled with humanity and heart that you root for him every moment he’s on-screen, and he merely seeks fulfillment. Especially around his loyal and loving stepsister Sam, who he frequently bonds with and garners an unofficial marriage with for most of the film. Emma Watson’s portrayal of Sam is sublime and often times wrenching. Playing the young enigmatic ingénue of the misfits, she’s often like a cracked porcelain doll, a sheer beauty of unique composition who is struggling to outrun her unfortunate reputation of promiscuity she obtained in freshman year after being manipulated and taken advantage of by seniors in school.
Often times it’s the cracks in her body that make her so lovely to admire, and she garners a sense of sadness and longing for true affection, even when celebrating with her step brother. Logan Lerman is also a marvel of a performer, as the young Charlie who is never sure what kind of love he wants, and is also never sure what kind of love is genuine until the very end. Lerman’s performance is very downbeat and restrained, and as an individual whose suppressed his emotions and numbed himself to pain for most of his life, Lerman is just incredible. Stephen Chbosky’s dramedy is a masterpiece and one I intend to re-visit time and time again with zeal and love.
Featured on the Blu-Ray release is a commentary by Writer/Director Stephen Chbosky who goes over the film with insight and a thorough eye that explores the more personal elements of the film. There’s another audio commentary with Writer/Director Stephen Chbosky and the cast of “Perks” where the cast explains their experience shooting the film, and the fun they had on it. There’s “Best Summer Ever” a five minute interview session with the cast and crew that looks in to the details of the shoot, as well as twenty three minutes of Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Writer/Director Stephen Chbosky.
Finally, there are the Dailies of the film with optional commentary by Writer/Director Stephen Chbosky clocking in at seven minutes that features unedited and uncut scenes from the film. A masterpiece of modern filmmaking, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is a remarkable and deeply gripping dramedy with a slew of incredible performances, and a story that explores the teenage condition without pandering to niche crowds. This is a truly incredible film, and one I can’t wait to re-watch time and time again.