The Perks of Being a Wallflower | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Perks of Being a Wallflower 

Adaption of YA novel is a little too adolescent

Adapting his own YA novel to the screen, Stephen Chbosky proves an understated director, allowing his cherished 1999 source to wander in many awkward directions. If Pittsburgh native Chbosky means to mirror in form the erratic moods of adolescence, he's successful, but it doesn't create a cohesive movie. High school freshman Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a blank slate upon whom a troupe of theatrical secondary characters projects depth, including Ezra Miller's scene-stealing gay classmate and Emma Watson's bad-girl-gone-good. Charlie passively accepts from them any substance, sexual advance or paperback from the Western canon of troubled youth — Salinger, Kerouac, etc. — initiations that magically transform Charlie's suburban Pittsburgh life until driving over the Fort Pitt Bridge becomes the definitive experience. (The film was shot here, too.) But earnest platitudes ("I feel infinite"), vague affirmations ("Let's be psychos together"), and an overly naive voiceover are better suited as teen scribblings than onscreen speech. The tone also shifts temperamentally, and characters are inconsistent. Charlie's stoned request for a milkshake draws snickers until a friend's suicide is blurted out. A clownish hippie abruptly turns violent, and a hardboiled punk becomes a stage-five clinger. Moreover, the film's disturbing twist is jarring enough to make you break out.



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