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Perks of Being a Wallflower, The


Stars: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Kate Walsh, Paul Rudd, Dylan McDermott, Mae Whitman, Johnny Simmons, Tom Savini, Joan Cusack

Director: Stephen Chbosky

It’s possible that if Harry Potter graduate Emma Watson hadn’t been in this this amiable but hardly groundbreaking coming of age comedy-drama it might have passed relatively unnoticed.

Fortunately for aspirant auteur Stephen Chbosky who trebles as executive producer (one of seven billed producers, a team that includes John Malkovich), director and screenwriter (adapting his own novel), Watson (who passed almost unnoticed in My Week with Marilyn) seizes all the opportunities he affords her and, with an impressively credible American accent, holds centre screen much of the time playing a senior at the typical high school where socially diffident Logan Lerman ends up as the eponymous wallflower, always on the edge of the action, never part of it.

That is until, adopted by charismatic seniors Watson and her stepbrother Miller, the initially introverted Lerman learns to enjoy such traditional (in American movies at least) high school rites of passage as the suicide of a friend, wild drives, screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show accompanied by students joining in enthusiastically, dressed as the on-screen characters, and burgeoning first love, with Watson. Meanwhile Lerman, who is also an aspirant author, is guided and encouraged to pursue his dream of becoming a writer by his English teacher Rudd who, to put it mildly, is far too good to be true…

Lerman surfs the story effectively enough and has sufficient charm to carry him through while Miller (last seen as the eponymous Kevin in the painfully overrated We Need to Talk About Kevin) scores as the irreverent stepbrother.

Without Watson and the ‘Harry Potter’ factor, The Perks of Being a Wallflower would simply be yet another competent, pleasant enough and easily forgotten American high school movie. Actually, with Watson, and, although neatly polished by Chbosky, it’s still just that.

(Mind you, compared with Daniel Radcliffe’s embarrassing attempt to convince playing the father of a four-year-old son in The Woman in Black and Rupert Grint’s post-Potter career, it’s clear Watson has the best chance of escaping the Curse of Hogwarts).

Alan Frank

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Entertainment One. Colour by deluxe.
102 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 0.

Review date: 07 Oct 2012