The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

(On Cable TV, December 2014) I don’t usually go for teenage coming-of-age dramas –seeing The Perks of Being a Wallflower was a bit of self-imposed viewing to complete a checklist.  But there’s quite a bit to like in this tale of early-nineties growing up in Pittsburgh: a textured look at damaged teenagers (ie; all of us) and the way they can help each other cope.  Alternately hilarious, heartbreaking, tragic and uplifting, The Perks of Being a Wallflower goes everywhere but in a carefully deliberate fashion: there’s little that’s accidental in this story (written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, adapting his own novel) about how a high school freshman comes to find a support group among eccentric seniors and break out of his shell.  Logan Lerman is likably bland as the protagonist, while Emma Watson proves herself to be an interesting actress in this first post-Potter role and Ezra Miller steals every scene with his outspoken character.  The last twenty minutes are a roller-coaster of emotions as secrets are revealed, friendships are tested and tragedies unfold.  This is a movie with heart, complexity and a decent amount of subtlety as well: It reminded me of my own early-nineties high-school years despite having almost none of the specific experience of the characters.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower is not a spectacular film, but it lingers in mind far longer than most Hollywood spectacles.

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