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The Perks of Being a Wallflower (film)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a 2012 American coming-of-age drama film written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, based on Chbosky’s 1999 novel of the same name. Logan Lerman stars as a teenager named Charlie who writes to an unnamed friend, and these epistles chronicle his trials, tribulations, and triumphs as he goes through his first year of high school. The film depicts his depression and anxiety as he goes through his journey in high school making new friends. The film's ensemble cast also features Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Mae Whitman, Kate Walsh, Dylan McDermott, Nina Dobrev, Johnny Simmons, Erin Wilhelmi, Melanie Lynskey, Paul Rudd and Joan Cusack.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
A boy standing next to a girl, who is leaning her head on the shoulder of a second boy, in front of a lime green wall and below the words "we are infinite".
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStephen Chbosky
Produced by
Screenplay byStephen Chbosky
Based onThe Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Stephen Chbosky
Music byMichael Brook
CinematographyAndrew Dunn
Edited byMary Jo Markey
Distributed bySummit Entertainment
Release date
  • September 8, 2012 (2012-09-08) (TIFF)
  • September 21, 2012 (2012-09-21) (United States)
Running time
103 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$13 million[2]
Box office$33.4 million[3]

John Hughes originally read the novel and attempted to write a screenplay after he got the rights from Chbosky; however, he never finished writing the screenplay. Mr. Mudd Productions wanted Chbosky to adapt his own novel; after he finished writing the screenplay, production was approved. Filming began in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on May 2011 and lasted approximately fifty days. This is one of the three films from John Malkovich, Lianne Halfon and Russell Smith's Mr. Mudd Productions that feature struggling teenagers; the other two are Ghost World and Juno.[3][4][5][6]

The film premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2012, followed by the United States' theatrical release on September 21, 2012, by Summit Entertainment. It received positive critical response and commercial success, earning $33.4 million to a budget of $13 million. It received several accolades, including the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature, two Critics' Choice Movie Awards nominations, including Best Adapted Screenplay for Chbosky, and the 2013 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film – Wide Release.


Set in 1992, a young high school student, Charlie (Logan Lerman) who has been suffering from clinical depression setbacks since childhood has recently been discharged from a mental health care institution. Charlie is uneasy about beginning his freshman year of high school; he is shy and finds difficulty in making friends, but he connects with his English teacher, Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd).

Charlie meets two seniors, Sam (Emma Watson) and her stepbrother Patrick (Ezra Miller) at a football game and they invite him to a party. Charlie unknowingly eats a weed brownie, gets high and discloses to Sam that the year before, his best friend committed suicide. He also walks in on Patrick and Brad (Johnny Simmons) the high school quarterback, kissing. Patrick tells Charlie that Brad doesn't want anyone to know he's gay, so Charlie agrees to keep it a secret. Sam realizes that Charlie has no other friends, so she and Patrick make a special effort to bring Charlie into their group. On their way home the three hear an unknown song on the radio, Sam instructs Patrick to drive through a tunnel, so she can stand up in the back of the pickup while the music blasts.

Sam needs to improve her SAT scores to have a better chance of being accepted to Pennsylvania State University, so Charlie offers to tutor her which improves her SAT score. At Christmas, Sam gives Charlie a vintage typewriter to thank him for his help. The two discuss relationships, and Charlie reveals he has never been kissed. Sam, though already involved with someone else, tells Charlie she wants his first kiss to be from someone who loves him, and kisses him.

At a regular Rocky Horror Picture Show performance, Charlie is asked to fill in for Sam's boyfriend Craig, who is not there. Their friend Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman) is impressed and asks Charlie to the Sadie Hawkins dance. The two enter into an unsatisfactory relationship. Finally, at a party, when Charlie is dared to kiss the prettiest girl in the room, he chooses Sam, upsetting both her and Mary Elizabeth. Patrick recommends Charlie stay away from the group for a while, and the isolation causes him to sink back into depression. He experiences flashbacks of his Aunt Helen (Melanie Lynskey) who died in a car accident when he was seven years old.

Brad shows up to school with bruises on his face after having been caught by his father having sex with Patrick. Brad claims that he was jumped and beaten up, and distances himself from Patrick, calling him a "faggot". After Patrick punches him, Brad's friends begin beating Patrick, but Charlie forcefully intervenes, then blacks out. When he recovers he finds that he has bruised knuckles and Brad's friends are on the floor, incapacitated. Sam and Patrick express their gratitude to Charlie, and the three become friends again.

Patrick tries to cope with what happened with Brad, and at one point kisses Charlie, but immediately apologizes afterwards. Charlie keeps getting worse after the blackout. Sam is accepted into Penn State, and breaks up with Craig on prom night after learning he has been cheating on her. The night before she departs, she brings Charlie to her room. They confide in each other and kiss, but when Sam touches Charlie's thigh, he experiences a momentary flashback of his Aunt Helen, which he passes off as nothing, and they continue to kiss. After she leaves for college, though, his emotional state deteriorates and his flashbacks worsen. He calls his sister blaming himself for Helen's death, and admits he may have wanted it to happen. His sister realizes he is in trouble and calls the police. Charlie passes out as they burst through the door and comes to in a hospital, where psychiatrist Dr. Burton (Joan Cusack) manages to bring out Charlie's repressed memories which reveals that his aunt sexually abused him.

The night Charlie is released from the hospital he is visited by Sam and Patrick. Sam explains what college life is like, and that she has found "The Tunnel Song" - "Heroes" by David Bowie. The three revisit the tunnel, where Charlie kisses Sam again, and he stands up in the back of the truck. Charlie acknowledges that he feels alive and in that moment - "We are infinite".



John Hughes read the novel and attempted to write a screenplay after he got the rights from Chbosky; however, he never finished this screenplay. Hughes was going to use the project as a directorial comeback with more of a black comedy style. He had in mind particular actors while writing the screenplay, namely, Shia LaBeouf as Charlie, Kirsten Dunst as Sam and Patrick Fugit as Patrick.

Other filmmakers who were interested in the project were Ron Howard, Richard Linklater, Josh Schwartz, McG, Joel Schumacher, Ryan Murphy and British filmmaker Danny Boyle.

Mr. Mudd Productions (producers of Juno) became interested in the project and wanted Chbosky to adapt the film. The producers—John Malkovich, Lianne Halfon, and Russell Smith—hired Chbosky to write a screenplay adaptation (instead of Hughes) and to direct the film. Chbosky found value in half of Hughes' screenplay, so he negotiated for the rights from Hughes' heirs and added his own touches. In January 2011, Summit acquired distribution rights.[7] The following month, Summit sought a buyer for the project at the European Film Market held simultaneously with the Berlin International Film Festival.[8]

In May 2010, actors Logan Lerman and Emma Watson were reported as in talks for the project[9] and confirmed the following year.[10] In April 2011, Mae Whitman signed on as Mary Elizabeth and Nina Dobrev was cast as Candace. Paul Rudd was cast as Mr Anderson later that month.[11] On May 9, 2011, Kate Walsh announced that she was cast in the film as Charlie's mother and had begun filming.[12]


The film was shot in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area from May 9 to June 29, 2011.[13] Initial filming began in Pittsburgh's South Hills, including South Park, Upper St. Clair, and Peters Township High School.[14][15]

The Rocky Horror Picture Show scenes were filmed at The Hollywood Theater in Dormont[16] after Chbosky learned that the theater was re-opening; he had seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show there when younger.[17]

The film also has scenes within Pittsburgh city limits inside the Fort Pitt Tunnel, Fort Pitt Bridge on Interstate 376 and on Mount Washington.[18]



The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
ReleasedAugust 1, 2012
GenreAlternative rock, dream pop, new wave, jangle pop, pop rock, folk rock
LabelAtlantic Records

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Soundtrack) is the official music for the book turned film, The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012). The soundtrack was selected by music supervisor, Alexandra Patsavas and the score was composed Michael Brook. The film itself follows the main characters Charlie, and step brother and sister combo Patrick and Sam, as they grow throughout high school.[19]

Screenwriter and director Stephen Chbosky writes in the album’s liner notes. “I’ve shared them with friends. And they have shared their favourites with me. Some of the songs are popular. Some of them are not known by a whole lot of people. But they are all great in their own way. And since these songs have meant a lot to me, I just wanted you to have them as a soundtrack for whatever you need them to be for your life.”[20]

Track listing
Song Title Artist Song Length When it appears in the film
"Could it Be Another Change" The Samples 3:28 Opening Credits
"Come on Eileen" Dexys Midnight Runners 4:47 Sam, Patrick and Charlie dance at homecoming
"Tugboat" Galaxie 500 3:54 Sam makes a milkshake for Charlie
"Temptation" New Order 5:24 Charlie goes to a party after seeing the Rocky Horror Picture Show
"Evensong" The Innocence Mission 3:40 Sam and Charlie talk at the Sadie Hawkins dance
"Asleep" The Smiths 4:10 The first song that plays when Charlie listens to ponytail Derek's mixtape.
"Low" Cracker 4:36 Charlie unknowingly eats a magic brownie
"Teen Age Riot" Sonic Youth 6:58 Patrick and Sam drop Charlie off at home
"Dear God" XTC 3:37 Charlie talks about the relationship between Brad and Patrick
"Pearly-Dewdrops' Drops" Cocteau Twins 4:11 Montage of the last day of school and graduation
"Charlie's Last Letter" Micheal Brook 1:48 Charlie, Sam and Patrick drive through a tunnel[21]
"Heroes" David Bowie 6:10 Sam stands up in the back of the pick-up truck, into ending credits[22]
Chart Performance
Chart Weeks spent on Charts Peak Number Peak Date
US Billboards 16 weeks #7 October 27, 2012[23]
US Top Rock Albums 2 weeks #40 March 9, 2013[24]

The soundtrack, with a run time of 52 minutes, was released Aug 1st, 2012 by Atlantic Records. The cover of the soundtrack is the same as the theatrical release poster and shows the three main characters with a green backdrop behind them, Sam (Emma Watson) is leaning her head on Charlie’s (Logan Lerman) shoulder, and Patrick (Ezra Miller), stands on the other side of Sam looking straight forward. Written above their heads are the words, “The Perks of being a Wallflower: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”.[25]

The song "It’s Time" by the Las Vegas native band Imagine Dragons was used in the trailer, but was not included in the film itself.[26]


The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Original Motion Picture Score)
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedSeptember 25, 2012
LabelLionsgate Records

The score was composed by Michael Brook and released September 25, 2012. The official time of the score in its entirety is 23:41 minutes long. The cover shows five people on the top of sport field bleachers looking out, with two characters having their arms up cheerfully. This is in reference to the graduation scene in the novel.[27][28][29]

Track listing
Song Title Length on Film
First Day 2:32
Home Again 1:40
Charlie Speaks 2:03
Candace 1:46
Charlie's Gift 0:55
Kiss Breakdown 5:12
Acid 3:13
Charlie's First Kiss 3:34
Shard 2:47


The film was scheduled to be released on September 14, 2012, but it was announced in August 2012 that it would be released a week later, on September 21, 2012, in selected cities.[30] The film continued to expand on September 28, 2012, with a nationwide release on October 12, 2012. The UK premiere was on September 23[31] at the Cambridge Film Festival.


The film originally received an R rating for "teen drug and alcohol use, and some sexual references". The filmmakers appealed and the MPAA changed it to PG-13 for "mature thematic material, drug and alcohol use, sexual content including references, and a fight—all involving teens".[32]

Box officeEdit

The Perks of Being a Wallflower received a limited release of four theaters in the United States on September 21, 2012, and grossed $228,359 on its limited opening weekend, averaging $57,089 per theater. The film earned $17,742,948 in North America and $15,641,179 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $33,384,127.[3][33][34]


Critical responseEdit

The film received mainly positive reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a "Certified Fresh" score of 86%, based on 160 reviews, with an average score of 7.44/10. The site's consensus states: "The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a heartfelt and sincere adaptation that's bolstered by strong lead performances."[35] On Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average rating out of 100 based on reviews from critics, the film has a score of 67 based on 36 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[36]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three and a half stars out of four, writing in his review "All of my previous selves still survive somewhere inside of me, and my previous adolescent would have loved The Perks of Being a Wallflower".[37]

The lead cast also received positive notices. Ian Buckwalter of The Atlantic said "The primary trio of actors delivers outstanding performances, starting with Watson, who sheds the memory of a decade playing Hermione in the Harry Potter series with an about-face as a flirtatious but insecure free spirit. Miller also plays against his most recent performance, which was as the tightly wound eponymous teenage psychopath in We Need to Talk About Kevin, to deliver a giddy, scene-stealing turn as Patrick. Lerman, best known from the Percy Jackson series, shines as Charlie, a role that demands he be immediately likeable while still holding onto some deep darkness that can't be fully revealed until the end."[38]

John Anderson of Newsday also praised the cast saying "As Sam, the quasi-bad girl trying to reinvent herself before college, she (Emma Watson) brings honesty and a lack of cliche to a character who might have been a standard-issue student. But equally fine are her co-stars: Ezra Miller, who plays the gay character Patrick as something messy and unusual; Paul Rudd, as their English teacher, is refreshingly thoughtful. And Charlie is portrayed by Lerman as quietly observant, yearning and delicate in a way that will click with audiences regardless of age".[39]

Allison M. Lyzenga of My Film Habit praised the film saying "This movie especially recognizes that even while high-school can be a battlefield of insecurity and bullying, you can find allies to help you through the struggle. It also shows that we all have a brighter future ahead if we let ourselves reach for it."[40]

Some critics had a less positive response to the film, with the main criticism being that the portrayal of teenage issues is idealized and the casting uninspired. The Miami Herald critic Connie Ogle notes that "the suicide of Charlie’s best friend, which takes place before the film opens, seems glossed over too quickly" despite the event being Charlie's main character motivation in the film.[41] Jack Wilson of The Age writes, "the script is transparently fake at almost every moment, congratulating the gang on their non-conformity while soft-pedalling any aspect of adolescent behaviour—drug use, sex, profanity—that might upset the American mainstream."[42]Richard Corliss of Time criticized the casting of actors in their twenties to play teenagers, unlike the film Heathers where the cast were actually teenagers.[43]

MTV, Us Weekly and Complex named The Perks of Being a Wallflower one of the best films of the year.[44][45][46]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Boston Society of Film Critics December 9, 2012 Best Supporting Actor Ezra Miller Won [47]
Best Supporting Actress Emma Watson Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association December 17, 2012 Best Adapted Screenplay Stephen Chbosky Nominated [48]
Most Promising Filmmaker Stephen Chbosky Nominated
Critics' Choice Movie Awards January 10, 2013 Best Adapted Screenplay Stephen Chbosky Nominated [49]
Best Young Performer Logan Lerman Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society December 14, 2012 Breakthrough Performance Stephen Chbosky Nominated [50]
Best Screenplay Stephen Chbosky Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Ezra Miller Nominated
Dorian Awards January 18, 2013 LGBT Film of the Year The Perks of Being a Wallflower Nominated [51]
GLAAD Media Award April 20, 2013 Outstanding Film – Wide Release The Perks of Being a Wallflower Won [52]
Hollywood Film Festival October 23, 2012 Spotlight Award Ezra Miller Won [53]
Independent Spirit Awards February 23, 2013 Best First Feature Stephen Chbosky, Lianne Halfon, Russell Smith, and John Malkovich Won [54]
MTV Movie Awards April 14, 2013 Best Female Performance Emma Watson Nominated [55]
Best Breakthrough Performance Ezra Miller Nominated
Best Kiss Emma Watson and Logan Lerman Nominated
Best Musical Moment Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller Nominated
National Board of Review Awards January 8, 2013 Top 10 Films The Perks of Being a Wallflower Won [56]
People's Choice Awards January 9, 2013 Favorite Drama Movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower Won [57]
Favorite Dramatic Movie Actress Emma Watson Won
San Diego Film Critics Society December 11, 2012 Best Adapted Screenplay Stephen Chbosky Nominated [58]
Best Supporting Actress Emma Watson Won
Best Ensemble Performance The Perks of Being a Wallflower Won
Santa Barbara International Film Festival January 29, 2013 Virtuoso Award Ezra Miller Won [59]
St. Louis Film Critics Association December 17, 2012 Best Adapted Screenplay Stephen Chbosky Nominated [60]
Best Supporting Actress Emma Watson Nominated
Teen Choice Awards August 11, 2013 Choice Movie: Drama The Perks of Being a Wallflower Won [61]
Choice Movie Actor: Drama Logan Lerman Won
Choice Movie Actress: Drama Emma Watson Won
Choice Movie Breakout: Actor Ezra Miller Nominated
Choice Movie Liplock Logan Lerman and Emma Watson Nominated
USC Scripter Award February 9, 2013 Best Adapted Screenplay Stephen Chbosky Nominated [62]
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association December 10, 2012 Best Adapted Screenplay Stephen Chbosky Nominated [63]
Best Youth Performance Logan Lerman Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards February 17, 2013 Best Adapted Screenplay Stephen Chbosky Nominated [64]


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External linksEdit