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Manuel's Movie Reviews (1)

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower 
"And in that moment, I swear we are infinite"
4/4 stars

The story of the film centers on Charlie, a freshman that returns to attend his first year of high school after being admitted into a hospital having suffered from depression. Charlie is played by Logan Lerman who is best known for his role in the 'Percy Jackson' films, as well as 'The Three Musketeers', '3:10 to Yuma', 'Noah', and 'Fury'. After struggling to make new friends, as many of those he knew before he entered the hospital wonít speak to him, Charlie attends a football game and says hello to classmate Patrick, played by Ezra Miller. Patrick introduces Charlie to his stepsister Sam, played by Emma Watson.

Like Lerman, both Miller and Watson are terrific young actors and are among the very best of their generation. I remember first seeing Ezra Miller in 2011ís, 'We Need To Talk About Kevin', a powerful family drama that everyone really this must see. His standout performance in that film has been burned into my memory ever since. Of course, many of us know Emma Watson for playing Hermoine Granger in the 'Harry Potter' franchise, but she also did a terrific job beside Eddie Redmayne in the indie darling My Week With Marilyn.

The supporting cast is quite stellar and absolutely worth mentioning as well. Nina Dobrev, from the television show 'The Vampire Diaries', stars as Charlieís sister Candace, a popular girl who is in an abusive relationship. Kate Walsh, from 'Greyís Anatomy', plays Charlieís mother and his father is played by Dylan McDermott, best known for starring in 'The Practice'. Mae Whitman, from 'Arrested Development' and 'Parenthood', plays a school student named Mary Elizabeth and Johnny Simmons plays the high school quarterback, Brad. Both of those young actors appeared in 'Scott Pilgrim Versus The World'. Other supporting actors and cameo appearances are made by Tom Savini, Paul Rudd, Joan Cusack, and Melanie Lynskey.

Charlieís life and high school experience take off after he attends a seniorís party where he is accepted by Sam and Patrickís clique, called the Wallflowers. Thus, Charlie begins to not only find himself but is quickly able to find who his people are; the misfit, artsy, theater crowd that some of us probably knew and/or hung out with in high school.

One of the reasons I love this film so much is that itís more than just a simple coming-of-age tale about an outsider who finds out where he/she belongs. No, 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' is so much more that just your typical high school film. Itís emotionally gripping from beginning to end with engaging performances and a powerful story. In particular, thereís an unsettling reveal that Charlie makes about one of his family members, which is both disturbing and yet itís what Charlie needed in order to move on with his life and to overcome his depression.

Another reason why 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' isnít a typical high school movie is that we donít really know what year the story takes place. Therefore, the distractions of fashion and technology donít play a major role. While there are some vague references made to the late 1980ís/early 1990ís, the soundtrack then becomes one of the stars of this film. From everything that era had to offer, including David Bowie, New Order, Dexys Midnight Runners and one of my favorite bands, The Smiths, the filmmakers certainly knew exactly how to set up both the light-hearted, coming-of-age moments with the emotionally powerfully tone of the story.

If I did have one problem with the film, it would be the ending. It shows Charlie and Sam starting a relationship with each other. It bugs me personally because, in the book, it was stated that they would be better off as friends, but maybe they could be in a relationship one day. I thought that was a better message because it showed the progression of characters that Charlie and Sam go through Charlie realizing that Sam's friendship is more important than sleeping with her and Sam being OK with his decision of not sleeping with each other. However, the film's ending states that both are in a relationship, and it botches up the message.

Overall, 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' happens to be a personal favorite because itís not your typical high school film. Sure, there are parties and cafeteria cliques, but the story delves deep into the most serious issues that young people face. Love, homosexuality, acceptance, religion, family, drug abuse, partying, popularity, sex, and mental health are themes that not every movie about teenagers goes into. Remember, this isnít about a group of horny guys who want to lose their virginity at prom. Rather, 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' is a realistic take on the emotional reality that young people go through all over the world. And for that, I more than respect this indie gem that also has the rare honor of being directed by the same person who authored its novel.

So, please see this film if you havenít before. There are many characters one can relate to and Iím sure youíll find something about it to love.

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