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The Perks of Being a Wallflower revisits pre-Internet adolescence

As someone who was in college when Napster happened, I'd love to see a period piece re-creating teen life during the last moments before technology began to change media consumption, communication, and the whole of social ritual. I wish The Perks of Being a Wallflower, written and directed by Stephen Chbosky from his 1999 young-adult novel, was it. Set in 1991, the film is an incidental time capsule of a pre-Internet adolescence spent discovering the Smiths via mixtapes, when suburban teens could realistically get their first taste of gender subversion via a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But period particulars seem secondary on Chbosky's list of priorities. Charlie (Logan Lerman), a shy-fox fourteen-year-old with a history of depression, makes it through his freshman year by clinging to the alterna-clique spearheaded by Edie-esque Sam (Emma Watson) and her swish stepbrother Patrick (Ezra Miller). Charlie loves Sam, who is sorta spoken for by a boho college douche, so instead he dates her overbearing friend (Mae Whitman). Chbosky plays this CW serial stuff for maximum earnestness, stressing the teenage tendency to assume that every new thing they're feeling is unprecedented in human history, keeping the tone just-moist-eyed throughout. And then comes the plot twist, which recasts the film's plaintive portrait of Charlie's free-floating anxiety and sexual weirdness as Not His Fault. Good for him; what about the rest of us?

 
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3 comments
hellingpt
hellingpt

After having grown up on highschool films that strike out from privelaged teenage concerns only as far as the culdesacs of whatever suburban paradise they portray... Perks offers a dose of realism, if not a curve-correcting influence to the genre

as a whole. Although the story is still told from behind a white-picket fence, it nonetheless portrays the emotional anguish that is coming of age in a way that any social class can relate to.

hellingpt
hellingpt

After having grown up on highschool films that strike out from privelaged teenage concerns only as far as the white fences of the suburban paradise they portray... Perks offers a dose of realism, if not a curve-correcting influence to the genre as a whole.

dtaggert
dtaggert

I saw a pre-release screening of this film on Sept. 17, & was just entranced! All the actors deliver pitch perfect performances, but Ezra Miller's Patrick was the standout. His out-&-proud performance as a gay teen was sensitive; during the RHPS segments, he played Frank N Furter & was the cutest Frank I've seen (besides Tim Curry of course!).

 

Easily the best film I've seen in the past 2 years.

 

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