“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012) Review
To preface this review, I will say that I never read the book this film recreates nor knew anything about its story prior to viewing “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. That being said, the film as a whole is rather average. It certainly has its good parts, but has many flaws as well that tend to not be easily overlooked in the context of the entire experience.
Starting out, the plot of “Perks” is interesting, but becomes underwhelming. It focuses mainly on a high school freshman who befriends two unusual seniors who take him under their wings and into their group of friends. I have never been a fan of overly exaggerated high school scenarios, and this certainly fits right in with the teen angst feel. While the plot that occupies the majority of the film is decent, there is, however, a deeper story than that which is presented throughout most of the film. Once this deeper story is revealed, it is unexpected – not in a good way, but in a way that lacks the type of development that makes these revelations impactful. Again, I haven’t read the book so I don’t know if anything changed for the film (though I doubt much did since Stephen Chbosky, the original book’s author, also directed the film). The ensuing scenes spiral quickly and feel underdeveloped – a poor change compared to the rest of the film which develops its characters very well. In fact, the characters in this story are what really make the story work. They have such intricate personalities and their actions feel genuine. Without them, the plot would drag and fail to draw the viewer in.
In mentioning the characters, I must speak about the cast who brought them to life. The young group of actors and actresses in the film do a very good job of making everything feel natural. From Watson to Miller to Lerman, there is a talented bunch on display here that it is a shame that the plot fails to hold it together in the final section. Still, despite the plot fumblings, it is hard to find fault with any of the performances in “Perks”.
Outside of the plot and cast, the other pieces that make of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” are generally well done. The soundtrack has its mix of tracks from Sonic Youth to David Bowie, while the cinematography has its fair share of nice shots. The dialogue is well-written, yet has a pretentious feeling to it (like dialogue trying to sound smart only for the sake of seeming complex). On the whole, though, there is little here that really lifts the movie to above average, nor makes up for the stumbling finale.
For those with interest in “Perks of Being a Wallflower”, I’m sure you will enjoy the film. Honestly, it is a great effort up until the final quarter or so of the film, once it reveals its main plot twist. From there the film unravels and can’t put itself back together, marring the overall experience. Still, the characters, acting, and soundtrack are great and keep the majority of the film interesting.
Final Score – 6.2/10
“Perks of Being a Wallflower” is a wonderful film. There is a great cast, a wonderful soundtrack and cinematography work, but most importantly it has a storyline that is truly refreshing for me. Though it may not be the perfect storyline, and did have some obvious flaws when it came to how the story was laid out and timed, it was still enjoyable.
The plot did have some unique twists that added to the depth of the movie. Though there were those over dramatic high school scenes, such as the new kid sitting alone at a lunch table, or getting beat up in the middle of the lunchroom with no teachers around (all of which NEVER happen in real life), it didn’t distract much from the quality of the story. Despite some flaws, it was truly a movie that I enjoyed and could watch again and again. It gave me that feeling of reliving your teen years – the depression, the bullying, the unknown, trying to fit in and finally the overwhelming realization that you don’t need to fit in to feel loved and accepted by the friends around you.
I really enjoyed the story, the acting and the soundtrack, which made it such an enjoyable movie for me. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys similar style movies, nothing too over the top trying to make you think; yet nothing too flat like most romantic movies or comedies. See it for yourself and let us know what you think in the comments!
Final Score: 7.7/10