The highly anticipated adaptation of a YA novel, THE PERKS OF BEING A FLOWER is also HARRY POTTER‘s Emma Watson‘s first major post-POTTER role.
Written and directed by Stephen Chbosky (who also wrote the novel), PERKS follows young Charlie (Logan Lerman) as he begins high school and desperately seeks friends. The film has a intimate feel reminiscent of a John Hughes teen movie without the gloss. While Hughes movies became so formulaic that they became spoofable, Chbosky’s labor of love drips with a sweetness focused in the clever casting of Young Hollywood’s up and comer, Logan Lerman.
Lerman is a big surprise. His earlier works looked like his career would be flaming out early. He was in the dreadful PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS and the equally dreadful remake of the THREE MUSKETEERS. It was as if Lerman’s agent was too eager to land him big popcorn movies as opposed to any projects that demonstrated if he had any actual talent. As the Bambi-in-distress lead character, Lerman is loveably effective. The females in the audience oooohed and awwwwed at every big-eyed Lerman reaction shot.
When Charlie is befriended by 2 seniors – Sam (Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller) – his life is lovingly complicated by his new friend’s social circuit’s dramas.
As Patrick, a flamboyantly gay student, Ezra Miller (WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN) continues to demonstrate his considerable acting skills. This character is unrecognizable from his previous work, and it’s a shame that a lot of Patrick’s story from the book has been cut from the film. In fact, the funniest line in PERKS’ trailer doesn’t even show up in the final cut of the film! Miller has to make do with precious few lines to keep his character from becoming caricature.
The weak link in this trio is unfortunately Emma Watson. She is pixie-cute and spunky as Sam, the object of Charlie’s crush. But her valiant attempts at maintaining a consistent American accent remind the audience that she is very very British and probably the main reason that this little film was financed and greenlit.
PERKS loses its perkiness at times – it’s hard to juggle witty dialogue with the clumsy reveal of Charlie’s darker demons, but overall PERKS is a wonderful debut for Chbosky. It’s very rare for an author to see his book make it to the big screen. Rarer still for the author to end up being the one to direct and adapt his own work. And all too rare for a writer/author/director to have done a good job of it all.
CLICK HERE for the official “Perks” website.