Movie Review: In an early 1990s Pittsburgh, Charlie (Lerman) is an introvert freshman at his high school. His life is spent studying and reading. He is brilliant but his life needs excitement. He finds that excitement via two seniors, Patrick (Miller) and Sam (Watson), a brother-sister duo. Patrick and Sam befriend Charlie and show him a new life. The problem is Charlie has a past that continuous to be an issue.
This is a well-acted drama, a coming-of-age story directed and written by Stephen Chbosky. Perhaps more writer-filmmakers this talented should helm films and pen screenplays based on their novels.
“Wallflower” is a surprise hit, a wonderful film. It works on many levels. The story is inspirational, gratifying and thought provoking. The lives are vivid and important because this story gives characters substance. Plot builds character. This is evident with Chbosky’s good screenplay.
The cast makes the best of their roles. It is easy to want to return to high school after this. Of course, the high school of desire is the one portrayed here, Mill Grove High.
A youthful Lerman is known for roles as the title character in “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” (2010). He is intriguing. He nicely plays an introvert with a certain solemn tone that works very well. His scenes with Watson and Miller are captivating.
Watson (“Harry Potter” series) is a youthful beauty. She dazzles throughout. Miller (“Afterschool,” 2008) is superb as a comical Patrick. He is full of life and faces many obstacles, yet he still manages to make the best of life. Miller is enriching.
In a secondary role, Mae Whitman plays Mary Elizabeth, a wealthy, strong-willed friend of the above mentioned. She is very much a snazzy younger, but modern version of “Star Wars’” actress Carrie Fisher.
This is a Chbosky’s first outing as a director. He will be a hot commodity now. He has put together a nice coming-of-age tale without the overdone adolescent material. Chbosky’s error is not knowing when to end this film. Additional scenes near the end appear out of place, but these additions are necessary to explain a character’s actions, even if it changes the nature of the plot. This is one of the best, not heavily publicized dramas of this year.
Grade: B+ (Plenty perks exist, making this a worthy piece.)