THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER: “Love, Hope, Acceptance and Redemption”

Logan Lerman as Charlie
Emma Watson as Sam
Ezra Miller as Patrick
Nina Dobrev as Candace, Charlie’s sister
Mae Whitman as Mary Elizabeth
Paul Rudd as Bill, Charlie’s English teacher
Kate Walsh as Charlie’s mother
Dylan McDermott as Charlie’s father
In Detroit theaters September 28

Charlie (Lerman) is a high school freshman, dreading school so much that he is literally counting the days to the end of the school year. Painfully shy and introverted, and seemingly ready to jump at shadows, he’s so uncomfortable in his own skin.  We meet him on the first day of high school.  Through his ordeals of bullying and abuse at the hands of his classmates, Charlie meets two seniors: the beautiful, quick-witted, Sam (Watson) and her fabulously flamboyant step-brother, Patrick (Miller).

They welcome Charlie with open arms and take him under their wing. The three become fast friends; they go to school functions and parties together, and Charlie slowly begins to come out of his shell.

At a party, Charlie lets slip to Sam that his best friend committed suicide the previous spring. This further strengthens the bond between the three, and Charlie officially becomes a member of their little inner circle of friends with a toast, “Welcome to the Island of Misfit Toys.” They are now a “family,” which is a connection that Charlie seems to be missing. With his true family, although loving and close knit, with Charlie’s older sister looking out for him,  there is a shadow that hangs over them like the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about. Charlie has suffered a breakdown and had been hospitalized.  Charlie’s mom and dad (Walsh, McDermott) are concerned that things are “getting bad” again and that Charlie’s now “seeing things.”

They all seem to be walking on egg shells as Charlie’s emotional state is seemingly just as fragile. The visions that haunt Charlie are primarily of his aunt. Through flashbacks, we learn that Charlie’s one close and meaningful relationship was with his aunt, who was killed in an auto accident when he was a child. Charlie still suffers her loss every day, especially as he gets closer to Sam.

Through letters that Charlie writes to an anonymous “friend,” Charlie tells us of his feelings and impressions of his life, and the world around him, including how he is becoming enamored with Sam, although she only has eyes for her college-going boyfriend who has a wandering eye. Patrick has his own woes, dating a closeted football player on the sly.

Mary Elizabeth (Whitman), another senior of Charlie’s circle of friends begins to take a shine to Charlie and decides that they should date. Charlie reluctantly goes along with her, but this proves to be disastrous. In the end, it causes a small rift within the group, but eventually fences are mended.

As the school year progresses, everyone begins making plans for where they’re going to go to college and Charlie begins to realize that his “family” will be breaking up. Charlie manages as best he can, but after he confesses his feelings for Sam and watches her drive away. This pushes him to the edge, and he ends up back in hospital, but a breakthrough is made after a major revelation. After being in a state of emotional limbo, Charlie reveals a horrifying secret about his aunt that he had never told anyone – not his doctors, nor his parents. It is then that his healing begins. Patrick and Sam are there to make sure all of Charlie’s pieces are put back together and to let him know that he will never be alone again.

Based on the coming of age novel by Stephen Chbosky, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is a beautiful film about love, hope, acceptance and redemption. Directed by the author, Stephen paints a vivid picture of Charlie’s world. If you’re like me, high school was not a good or comfortable place and Chbosky makes sure we definitely feel Charlie’s awkwardness all too painfully. So young to be dealing with so much, we feel for Charlie and all the baggage he is carrying, while trying to fit in and function. But don’t think that this is a grim tale; this is a celebration of youth. There is darkness, but there is also warmth, love, and humor as these three friends grow and share their lives together. To wallflowers out there, all you misfit toys, you are not alone. See this movie.

5 out of 5 stars.

Check out the trailer for “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” below:

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