Stephen Chbosky adapts and directs his coming-of-age epistolary novel, resulting in a high school movie that’s emotional and engaging without being overly sentimental. Refusing to shirk the dark side of adolescence, Chbosky deals with themes of sex, death, drugs, dependency, abuse and identity – and not a sparkly vampire in sight. More
There’s plenty of humour amidst the teen awkwardness and angst, much courtesy of Mae Whitman, who owns the role of Mary Elizabeth: “a nice person underneath the parts of her that hate everybody.” In minor roles the adult supporting cast are great - especially Joan Cusack as Charlie's doctor and Paul Rudd as Mr. Anderson.
It’s the youngsters that impress, however. Logan Lerman charms as ‘Wallflower’ Charlie, American-accented Emma Watson is spot on as Sam, and Ezra Miller perfect as Patrick. All this and a cracking teen soundtrack, groovy 1990s period detail, solid unshowy direction and a script that makes the leap from page to screen with little of the raw emotional appeal of Charlie’s letters lost.
Like the book, the film attempts a sincere, moving and provocative portrayal of imperfect, uncertain young people. Some will find it too sweet, too soap-operatic or just too American, but with Charlie’s rallying cry of “we are infinite,” Perks joins The Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook as a U.S. movie adaptation that does justice to its source material.
Perks may just become The Breakfast Club of new century teens, adding guts to the high school genre by attempting to portray the sickly sweet truth of teenage trials and tribulations - acne n’ all. Hide