Perks’ Performances Capture Audience Empathy

Casey Miller, Sports Editor

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the kind of film that keeps hold of your thoughts for days, even weeks.  Based on the bestselling novel of the same title, written in 1999, Perks is impressive.

Socially challenged but academically talented freshman Charlie (played by Logan Lerman) is taken in by a group of seniors, which includes beautiful Sam (Emma Watson) and her gay stepbrother Patrick (Erza Miller).  Through experiences with drugs, revealing secrets, and viewing the Rocky Horror Picture Show, the characters bond during their year together in high school in the late 90’s.

As the film was written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, the very author of the novel, the film matches the book almost exactly, and will satisfy everyone who read it.  The film covers heavy topics that weigh on high school students today, such as sexual orientation, drugs, domestic violence, and emotional and physical abuse.

The cast is phenomenal, with budding star Logan Lerman playing his leading role flawlessly.  Emma Watson is no longer seen only as Hermione Granger; in Perks, Watson fully transforms into an eighteen year old in the 90’s trying to get into Penn State while dealing with a rough history.  Erza Miller, who previously played a troubled young man in We Need to Talk About Kevin, seamlessly captures Patrick’s free-spirited flamboyancy as an openly gay high school student.

However, Lerman steals the spotlight with his portrayal of Charlie, a boy with a past that haunts him to the point of suicidal thoughts. Lerman communicates the troubled thoughts of Charlie so effectively that the audience feels real empathy for his character.

The setting for the film is perfect.  Exactly like the novel, the film radiates the 90’s vibe, down to the precise music selection and fashion of the decade, including songs from David Bowie, Sonic Youth, and the Smiths.  It’s likely to be nostalgic for older viewers who lived through the decade themselves.

Every teenager today can relate to at least one situation in Perks, whether it’s relationship problems or a strange relative.  The stellar actors in the film have the audience at their fingertips; everyone is guaranteed to cry and laugh along with them.

For anyone who thinks this is merely another angst-filled teenage drama, think again.  This isn’t just one more movie about bad romances or a house party gone awry – this is a movie for generations.  Not only high school students should see this, but parents as well.  This film accurately describes problems with society that still fall upon teenagers, even decades after the time in which the story is set.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a powerful performance that will be forever remembered as the ultimate coming-of-age story.