The Perks of Being a Wallflower, written and directed by the author of the original novel, Steven Chbosky, is a well-acted and noticeably different take on what would otherwise be a formulaic romp into cinematic teenage drama.
The film (which is most likely set in the early 90s on account of the abundance of mix tapes, the cult of Rocky Horror, and the attire) centers around Charlie, an incoming freshman who just moved into town. He has a difficult time making friends in his first few weeks of high school; that is until he decides to approach the flamboyant senior Patrick, who introduces Charlie to his stepsister Sam and their gang of misfit (yet semi-popular) oddballs. The film follows Charlie as Patrick and Sam take him under their wing and introduce him into a world he's never experienced before.
One of the strengths of the film is its brilliant characters; they appear to be stereotypical and generic, but are in fact quite unique, each having their own set of layers that define who they are. Charlie, for instance, might seem like the typical quiet kid, but he has a history of mental/psychological problems that aren't fully revealed until the end of the movie. Patrick might seem like your cliche goofball character, but behind closed doors he's having an affair with the football team's "straight" quarterback. And Sam, who might appear to be too attractive to fit in with this crowd, has a damaged past that closely resembles Charlie's.
Of course these characters couldn't be accurately brought to screen without the help of the actors that portray them. Logan Lerman gives a subdued but fascinating performance as Charlie. Ezra Miller steals every scene he's in as Patrick, adding some much-needed comedy to compliment some of the film's serious moments. In her first role in an American film, Emma Watson gives the most powerful performance as Sam. She brings a lot of depth to the character, and in my opinion she does a better job here than she did in any of the Harry Potter films; also, she can pull off a very convincing American accent.
Since the actors' portrayal of their characters is what mainly fuels this movie, there are a few gripes I had with it -- the main one being the odd but emotionally powerful "fourth act". Now obviously there are only supposed to be three acts in a movie, but too often do filmmakers cram in an awkward fourth after what appears to be the climax. However, this isn't a huge problem; it's just an unnecessary one. A fourth act doesn't keep a movie from greatness, as even some of the best films suffer from this problem, including The Dark Knight, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Magic Mike. In fact, in this movie, the fourth act contains a lot of important information-- it was just information that probably should have been fitted in before the climax, in my opinion.
Bottom line, I loved this movie. The writing is sharp, the acting is fantastic, and it can be surprisingly hilarious as well as emotional. It carries itself with important themes and conveys a strong message about love and friendship in an interesting way. I have not read the book, so I cannot attest to how faithful the adaptation was, but I can only assume that since the author himself directed it, it might have been pretty close. I saw it with my friend Molly, who did read the book, and she thought it stuck with the original novel's storyline 85% of the time, which I suppose is pretty good.
This a fantastic movie overall--go see it. I give The Perks of Being a Wallflower an 8.8/10.