First off let me start by saying that I had been looking forward to this film for quite some time. I’m not sure why really but sometimes you just see a trailer and you get a miraculous feeling that this film is going be great. I don’t get that feeling about everything, in fact I think the last time I had it, was Easy A back in 2010.
I know what you film snobs are thinking, Easy A, that film’s not that special and yes your probably right. But it was totally my kind of film and completely delivered on the feeling I got anticipating it. But while Easy A delivered, The Perks of Being a Wallflower totally exceeded expectations. This film got me and I got it, it summed up the magic and the pain of high school and was hopeful and heartbreaking at the same time.
One of the criticisms I have heard about this film is the fact that tackles too many big issues. That it tries to do too much. But I would argue that while it touches on many big topics, like mental illness, sexual abuse, homosexuality, domestic violence, all of these issues are really just an exploration one key idea. “We accept the love we think we deserve”. This deceptively simple message that people pick people that treat them badly because they believe that is all they are worth, is beautifully tackled.
This film insightfully exposes the patterns that lead people to devalue themselves. Whether you think you are less because society treats you that way, for example like being bullied for being gay. Or you think you are less because your parents treat you that way. Or on the more extreme end, you think you are less because someone has abused you and in an effort to understand why, you believe that it occurred because in some way you deserved it.
Not only does this film engage you on a philosophical level it also has amazing performances from a brilliant cast of young actors. Lorgan Lerman is a stand out as the intense and lovingly naive Charlie and is the prefect example of the kind of actor who face is so expressive he doesn’t need to speak a word.
Emma Watson is lovely as Sam, the lost beauty who finally sees what’s right in front of her and finally learns to her own worth. Her performance is honest and real and makes you wish you had a friend like her in high school.
And finally Erza Miller is brilliant as the hilariously honest but vulnerable Patrick. He is the comic relief this very emotive film needs. But his story is just as dark as the rest of them and he reminds us that sometimes the class clown has big problems of his own.
Surviving high school with some self worth really is a challenge and finding yourself and deciding what you deserve is what growing up is all about. This film epitomizes the coming of age genre and as someone very smart said to me, ‘The worst thing about this film, is knowing it will be a long time before you see anything this good again’.