Review In A Nutshell:
When this film hit theatres in 2012, many of its younger audience rejoiced it as one of the greatest films to have come out from that year. I did not see this initially until a year later, and by that time the hype that surrounds it have been buried, therefore allowing me to see this with a more objective perspective. I remembered after my initial viewing being impressed by the film's direction and acting performances. Another year has passed and has my experienced changed for the better? Definitely not but it still remains as an above average entry in its respective genres.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is not an easy film to watch, it may have its moments of warmness but for the most part, it had me in a state of melancholy. The film strips away the glorifying attributes of a high school film, and replaces it with authentic angst and trauma. Stephen Chbosky, who directed and wrote the screenplay and novel, does not deliver a film that can be generalised to the masses, the emotions may feel similar but the situations and events that the film's characters go through are highly specific and detailed. This is what makes this film stand out, is that it delivers the audience something unique but without having to try so hard in achieving it. I tend to forget that this is a high school film, as only certain sections of this film deal with the basic and cliché ideas of high school; I usually see this film as a dark character study as Chbosky's script is more concerned with the protagonist's, Charlie, life and emotions. The film rarely moves away from the character, which I felt was a great choice, as it isn't necessary anymore for high school films to tread over the same water and explaining the mechanics of its setting and the personalities of its characters. The film's climax delivers in such a way that is dire but memorable, pushing away the expectations of its genre and potentially shocks its audience, then leading to a conclusion that was appropriate and hopeful.
The film runs for about an hour and 42 minutes, which felt stretched out at times. A part of me felt that, Chbosky has strong attachments with his creations, which led the film to becoming a little indulgent. The film's point would have still been effective if it ran 10-20 minutes shorter, but in doing this it might displease the die-hard fans of the source material. I also was a bit bored with the "romantic" or dating aspects of this film, lacking the emotional impact of Charlie's deep personal struggles. The scenes seem to be present in order to keep the narrow minded and shallow audiences engaged.
As this was Stephen Chbosky's sophomore directing feature, the film has this simplistic approach in its photography. There were only two or three scenes present in this film that truly felt cinematic, and one of them includes the tunnel scene. Though in applying this approach, it does prevent the film from coming off as too Hollywood-y, which gives this film that indie charm that would catch the attention of a Sundance enthusiast. The film's musical score was surprisingly effective here. Not during a point in the film, did it feel cliché or overpowering. The film spaces the score out by filling in some of its scenes with tracks from artists like David Bowie, Sonic Youth and The Smiths. These musical cues shaped the 90s setting and at times, amplifying the personalities of its characters.
The performances in this film were certainly note-worthy particularly the film's central star, Logan Lerman. He captured that socially awkward with a dark past effortlessly. Sadly it has been two years since the release of this film, and he has yet to be in a film that showcases his talent other than this. 3:10 to Yuma firstly made me take notice of the actor; Perks of Being a Wallflower solidified him as top quality young actor; why is he currently not being offered great roles? Emma Watson, who plays Charlie's romantic interest, was also great, but she has already proven herself worthy with the Harry Potter series. It is common for actors and actresses to be locked into the type of roles they were successful in, but Watson was determined to escape from the trap and take risks. Her role here certainly takes her career to a whole new direction, displaying a side of her that is much darker than her previous roles. Ezra Miller in this film was, again, great. He was able to showcase polarising moods and personalities of his character throughout the film. His character goes through quite a lot in this and I was able to feel the sense of development in his character as the story progresses. Miller pops whenever his character has something to say, but it never crosses the line of being egotistic or one-sided, we are still reminded that this is still Charlie's story.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower failed to sweep me off my feet like it did for the bulk of its younger audiences at the time of its release. It contains more positive elements than it does with negative, but its problems are clearly on display and sometimes it isn't easy to just tune it out. It is hard to say whether or not this film would remain appealing in the future, but I wouldn't be surprised if it did.