Perks Of Being A Wallflower (2012) – Review

Ezra Miller gives us character in a way that only a rare, true performer does. Emma Watson is the antithesis of Ezra Miller’s talent. Where Ezra Miller knocks out a killer performance as a troubled gay man with a funny ol’ defense mechanism, Emma Watson can’t even muster up the charisma of a knock off post-Breakfast-Club-make-up-scene Ally Sheedy. That said, she’s not exactly in the best position to deliver anything noteworthy when the depth of her character can be summed up on a twice folded post-it note. The whole “we are weirdo’s and that’s why we’re great” philosophy might’ve worked in something more attuned to John Hughes’ honest style and not to something this amateurish, this blunt and this underdeveloped. Let’s look at how it’s so fetishistic of the 90s, yet really doesn’t feel at all like the era. I think that this is part of the film’s misunderstanding of montage theory, and how its misguided attempt to emulate the films it admires creates a weak collage of cliffsnotes that lack the foundation that these previous scenes built throughout their own stories. I would liken Perks Of Being A Wallflower to Almost Famous; in every way, characters, theme, story and even in Perks’ occasional, slight tone it poorly traces the outlines of Almost Famous, except in the ways that matter. The problems with Perks are simple: it’s too afraid, until it isn’t, and then it’s too late to count. There isn’t enough adventure, or any thing that greatly warrants this being labelled a significant experience: instead of tackling personal stories or getting into the nitty gritty of everyone’s dramas, the story tiptoes, and then wallops you with a plot twist that could’ve really pushed the element of engagement onto our main protagonist, had it come sooner rather than later. I understand that the film is going for a shock value final punch; a certainly effective tactic; but it comes at the cost of our engagement to Charlie whilst we’re watching his present day story unfold – had I known that what had happened to him, I might’ve approached his ‘wet-blanketness’ with more sympathy; but with schlocky and unimaginative exposition, his perspective falls flat. In addition, it becomes quite the slap in the face when Sam (Emma Watson) refers to herself as the misfit toy, when not a whole lot happens to her that even compares to child molestation – the film offers no consequence to the comparison with the reductionist attitude that the misfit toys quote labels everyone with. I’m not impressed, Perks Of Being A Wallflower is a lazy, underdeveloped caricature of greater, real movies.

Plus, is it me or did anyone else think that Charlie doesn’t actually feel like a writer. I don’t really remember him writing, it’s never a significant part of his persona. Compare to Almost Famous; where the kid went all across America, hung out with people way outside his comfort zone – a comfort zone where his mom felt like a real character and not just a prop in the plot -, drugs lead to significant changes in his life (unlike the quirky quirkfest that is Charlie’s drug trip) and went on an amazing coming of age story that will change his writing career forever. Charlie writes exposition and borrows some books from a fairly bland teacher; and he doesn’t really affect his life too significantly either (even Philip Seymour Hoffman’s occasional appearance offers more advice to William than Paul Rudd’s character offers Charlie). From time to time his friends call him a writer and they’re really rooting for him, but heck – the film just didn’t convince me. Perhaps it is just me, but when you’re a writer: you live and breathe writing; but Charlie breathes the air of a trivia kid in the search of friendship (and we, the audience, will never know the true, important meaning of his quest until the film is almost over – shame).
Don’t expect too much from this fairly snoozy, partially poorly acted, non drama, non comedy, non film. Cut Emma Watson, cut the fake love interest, shift the plot twist to the start and don’t be afraid to be adventurous, and I’ve considered this as something half decent and worth watching.

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