It wasn’t really possible to predict while the “Harry Potter” film series was in full swing, but now that I’ve seen “The Perks Of Being A Wallflower,” I’m prepared to call it. Emma Watson is going to have a long and successful career as an actor if that’s what she chooses to pursue. She may not be the star of this film, but when she’s onscreen, she’s incandescent, and she does such delicate character work in scene after scene that I think it’s apparent she has more than just Hermione to offer audiences.
Adapting a novel to the screen can be very tricky, especially when it’s something very personal. Stephen Chbosky may have written the much-loved novel, but that doesn’t automatically mean he’s the right guy to direct the movie. Thankfully, he turns out to be quite a director, and the result is a movie that I think people are going to fall madly in love with. It’s much smarter than the average teen film, and it does a remarkable job of evoking a specific time and place.
One of Chbosky’s biggest weapons in terms of making the film is his casting. Logan Lerman, Mae Whitman, Ezra Miller, Johnny Simmons, Nicholas Braun, Melanie Lynskey, Paul Rudd… all of them do really strong and memorable work. It’s a testament to Chbosky’s touch as a filmmaker, too. Many of these characters are outside the comfort zone of the actors, and they all rise to the challenge.
When I sat down at Toronto with cast and crew from this one, I had no idea that they would be paired in this particular way. Once I learned that Emma Watson was in the film, I was curious about how she’s going to do in films in the future, and it sounds to me like Chbosky’s a believer now. I’ve heard some chatter from fans of the book who don’t like the casting, but if Chbosky think she’s the right person to play Sam, I’m not going to argue with him.
Beyond her talent onscreen, you’ve got to give it up for the way she’s managed her life while making the jump from child actor to actor, and I think it’s a minor miracle that all three of the central “Harry Potter” kids have turned out normal and sweet and genuinely good in front of the camera. They’ve come a long way since they first encountered the Sorting Hat, and I am excited to see where Chbosky goes from here.
“The Perks Of Being A Wallflower” is open in limited release now.