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EW Movie Review: "The Perks Of Being A Wallflower"

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A new dramedy called "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" follows a high school freshman's coming of age. Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman filed the following movie review.

In high school movies, everyone is looking for someone to date. Friendship is usually what’s taken for granted. "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," a graceful and beguiling high school drama adapted from Stephen Chbosky’s 1999 novel, gently flips that pattern on its head.

The movie, which Chbosky wrote and directed himself, is set in 1991, in a tranquil section of Pittsburgh, where Charlie, a freshman who has spent time in a mental ward, is quiet and shy mostly because he’s scared of how precocious he really is.

Played by with an authentic teenage wariness by Logan Lerman, Charlie falls in with a clique of smart kids, most of whom are seniors. He thinks he’s in love with the no-nonsense Sam, played by Emma Watson. But the drama isn’t in whether they become an item. It’s in watching Charlie snap out of his wallflower cocoon by waking up to the real romance in his life, the one with his newfound friends. Those chums include Patrick, a kind of teenage Oscar Wilde played by the mesmerizing Ezra Miller.

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is the rare high school movie that’s not just funny and wistful but truly sophisticated. It zeroes in on Patrick’s anger at dating a closeted football star and it doesn’t let Charlie off the hook for his cruelty or self-pity.

Yet the film also finds an original and lovely nostalgia in wised-up kids from the ’90s going to see Rocky Horror or standing up in the back of a pickup truck as it zooms through a tunnel blaring David Bowie’s “Heroes,” a song that the movie turns into an ecstatic expression of the beautiful solidarity of youth.

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