It's often said that there are no good movies out there that illustrate the life of a high-school student anymore. There are a few exceptions, but they generally turn out to be comedies. 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' manages to stand out among the crowd, as it's much more in the realm of a high school drama. It manages to cover just about all the bases of that good old high school angst. It seems the kind of movie where no matter who you are, there's probably a character or two here that you can relate with quite well.
The film is about a freshman named Charlie (Logan Lerman), coming into the unknown realm of high school. He's clearly nervous about things, and you immediately understand that he has a sort of anxiety issue going on. For the time being, however, he isn't in bad shape. He's just trying to fit in, and having trouble.
One day, he meets two seemingly awesome people; a step brother and sister pair named Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson) respectively. Despite the fact that they are seniors, they take Charlie under their wing and welcome him into their circle of friends. The main focus of the story is Charlie and the eyes he has for Sam, painting a pretty damn realistic picture of how much it sucks to be hung up on your high school crush. However, both Sam and Patrick have their side stories, and their characters are just as important.
Sam has a history of "sleeping around", but she's trying very hard to pry herself away from all of that and succeed at school. Meanwhile, Patrick plays the somewhat formulaic gay guy (see 'Mean Girls' and 'Easy A' for further examples), but I'm very happy to see that he has more of a story to him as well. He has to deal with having to hide his sexuality from his partner's father, when in actuality he's pretty much out, loud and proud. By the way, don't get me wrong by calling it "somewhat formulaic" and making that sound like a harsh criticism. Some formulas are good! These characters helped make those examples I mentioned work and turn out to be good movies as well.
Anyway, as the movie unfolds, you are taken along with the characters throughout all of their highs and lows, especially Charlie. The film does a good job with allowing that time to get to know and care about the people involved. All three of the leads will tug at those heartstrings in some way.
Beyond the likable cast, the movie carries an interesting atmosphere with it. In a certain way, it made me more nostalgic about high school days than most other titles having to do with those years. I found in a big way I could identify with Charlie and all that he has to go through here. I won't spoil anything, but I will say that my favorite moment in the movie was the ending. Something very real is narrated, and it just closes things off with an interesting anecdote.
A fair warning for some of the audience though, the... I guess climactic scene of the movie might have a few "trigger warnings" to it. I wouldn't imagine it's unwatchable, as it's kinda hard to understand what exactly happens, but I feel it my responsibility to throw that out there.
For me, on a personal level, this is likely the best high school drama that has come out within the last decade or so. Not that there's a whole lot to choose from, to be fair. But if you feel so inclined for a heart-felt high school romance story that isn't so lovey-dovey, this is a great title!