An oxymoron; there are no “perks” to being a “wallflower”; many a wall was stained with my youthful DNA, some memories time does not erase; watching “Charlie” dealing with his disturbing visions, paranoia and primarily crippling shyness; hoping for the balm of friendship to sooth his painful vulnerabilities. Logan Lerman’s performance as Charlie is skillful, lacking cloying sensationalism; as a freshman in high school he yearns for a single companion and fathoms the thousand- plus days left to be tortured, taunted, bereft and excluded.
Because of the tenacity of one particular friend; I succumbed to her intransigent insistence and saw “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (a phenomena that exponentially keeps audiences, returning, enthralled); it is compellingly- acted, powerfully- written and a contemporary commentary on intelligent, over-exposed, indulged, technologically sophisticated teenagers; but teenagers, nonetheless.
It is a movie about acceptance, longing not to live one’s life on an island of solitude, isolation breeds discontent, insecurity, stymieing emotional and physical development; it accomplishes its mission, due to the scholarly depictions by these young, gifted actors. Lerman’s Charlie is sensitive, grave, memorable; Emma Watson is “Sam” a kooky, bright, iconoclastic senior, she recognizes Charlie’s needs and incorporates him into her sphere of nerdy outcasts; Ezra Miller (the bad seed in “We Need to Talk About Kevin”) as “Patrick”: gay, droll step-brother of Sam, is positively hypnotic in every scene; he is wise, weird, and wonderful; Mae Whitman sizzles as “Mary Elizabeth”, the pragmatic, Harvard-bound temptress, an enthusiastic muse willing to eliminate Charlie’s virginal state. What was so refreshing was the intellectual acuity exhibited by all the students; they were not flunking or bucking the system; they were studying and thriving within it.
Leaving, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” remembering Max Lerner’s quote: “the turning point in the process of growing up, is when you discover the core of strength within you, that survives all the hurt”. Charlie and his friends are halfway there!