Friday, 28 December 2012

REVIEW - THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER


Self-satisfied, faux-alternative film from what I assume is a self-satisfied, faux-alternative novel - I haven't read it, but it's the content that's irksome, not the treatment. Indeed, Stephen Chbosky makes a good case for authors adapting their work into screenplays, and then directing those screenplays - he is respectful of his material, and has an assured, conventional touch that would be insufferable were he an established filmmaker, but which functions as a refreshment, given the naive, bloated ambition of many debut directors. But he has made a wallowing, formulaic film, one that you keep hoping won't stir in BIG ISSUE after BIG ISSUE. Resist the temptation! Alas, Chbosky's bloated ambition lies in his determination to make a greatest hits of modern suburban melodrama (specifically from a teen perspective, which only augments the cumbersome, semi-profound pretentiousness), with traumas accumulating with exhausting, and exhaustive effect. Chbosky has nothing new to say - we've heard this all before - and he finds no new ways of saying any of it. He does manufacture something moving, in a primitive manner, with a late key change into more sombre mood, but then ruins it with a clumsily positive conclusion, and it's all manufactured, anyway. Logan Lerman never convinces as a mid-teen, but locates all the little details in his role, something which the supporting cast fails to do. He's unexpectedly excellent. Ezra Miller is all show - he has the demeanour of someone who knows he's great, when in fact he isn't, a display of self-security to conceal a nagging insecurity. And Emma Watson is similarly transparent - she's constantly conscious of the purpose of each line and each gesture, and of her character itself, and so theatrically aware of the camera you almost expect her to steal a glance into the lens. Miller and Watson are, perhaps, exactly what this film (and Stephen Chbosky) feels it needs; they are the embodiment of the people whom fans of Perks will want to be, whilst relating to Lerman, or at least one of his quirks.