This is a sweet, fairly well made teen coming-of-age story, set in the early 90s. It’s well traveled territory made fresh by the chemistry between the two leads, Logan Lerman and Emma Watson. Watson is a real revelation, spirited and sexy but suggesting greater depths than her somewhat conventionally conceived character would seem to have promised on the page.
Perhaps unwisely, one of the characters in the film says, “It’s official — my life has become an ABC Afterschool Special!” That is in fact pretty much what this film is, though with better acting and better production values than ABC usually offered. Why did anyone think it was a candidate for the big screen?
Well, the novel it was based on was a huge bestseller, Emma Watson’s participation probably meant an automatic green light, and the producers, who had also produced Juno, undoubtedly thought it had the same breakout potential. But Juno wasn’t a period piece — it was seen as a cutting-edge look at teen girl culture today, and it kept its appealing female protagonist front and center. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is told from the point of view of its male protagonist and Watson, the picture’s real treasure, has more of a supporting role.
One can only hope that Watson finds better vehicles than this for her wonderfully promising talents. Meanwhile it’s worth taking a look at her here to get a sense of what she might be capable of in the future.
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