Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor of Filmmaker magazine. He is also a photographer: his history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images is forthcoming; previews on Twitter (twitter.com/chighostsigns) as well as daily photography on Instagram: instagram.com/raypride. Twitter: twitter.com/rayPride. (Photo: Jorge Colombo.)
“I authentically told my story,” states Stephen Chbosky when describing his ambiguously autobiographical 1999 novel, whose adaptation he directs here. This better-than-average coming-of-ager was shot in Pittsburgh, where Chbosky spent the same years as Charlie (Logan Lerman). It’s 1991 and the period soundtrack is playlisted with obvious, if less than communicable affection. This freshman is adopted by the cool and troubled seniors and step-sibs Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller, “We Need to Talk About Kevin”). The trio is not as perverse as the American collegiate and the Parisian sibs he meets at the Cinematheque Française in Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Dreamers” (2003). The sensibility and sentiments are as adolescent as those in Chbosky’s “Rent” screenplay. Twice we hear a line that belongs on a counseling office poster: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” also suffers an inexcusably clichéd revelation of psychosexual trauma via flashbacks. All to explain blackouts of “that weird kid who spent time in the hospital,” as Charlie calls himself in his epistolary narration. With Kate Walsh, Dylan McDermott, Mae Whitman, Nina Dobrev, Erin Wilhelmi, Johnny Simmons, Zane Holtz, Paul Rudd, Joan Cusack, Melanie Lynskey. 103m. (Bill Stamets)
“Perks of Being A Wallflower” opens Friday at Landmark Century and Renaissance.