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Undated Film Still Handout from The Perks Of Being A Wall Flower. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Entertainment One. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.

Undated Film Still Handout from The Perks Of Being A Wall Flower. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Entertainment One. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.

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The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (12A)

Director: Stephen Chbosky.

Undated Film Still Handout from The Perks Of Being A Wall Flower. Pictured: (l-r) LOGAN LERMAN, EZRA MILLER and EMMA WATSON. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Entertainment One. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.

Undated Film Still Handout from The Perks Of Being A Wall Flower. Pictured: (l-r) LOGAN LERMAN, EZRA MILLER and EMMA WATSON. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Entertainment One. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.

Starring: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Paul Rudd, Dylan McDermott, Kate Walsh, Nina Dobrev, Melanie Lynskey and Joan Cusack.

Running time: 1 hr 42mins

THE agonies and ecstasies of youth are beautifully encapsulated in writer-director Stephen Chbosky’s exquisite adaptation of his own critically adored novel.

Set in early 1990s Pittsburgh, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is a bittersweet anthem to emotionally damaged youth.

Fluffiness and mawkish sentimentality, which are staples of the genre, are absent from Chbosky’s cinematic lexicon.

Instead, he spares his characters neither blushes nor pain, venturing into some incredibly dark recesses of the human experience with sensitivity and restraint.

He accomplishes this impressive feat without sacrificing the biting humour of his book, condensing the tome into a compact running time that flies by in a blur of laughter and gut-wrenching despair.

Charlie (Logan Lerman) is devastated by the suicide of his good friend Michael and the senseless tragedy haunts the sensitive teenager as a new term beckons.

The lad’s father (Dylan McDermott) and mother (Kate Walsh) hope Charlie will blossom in higher education but, as usual, their boy remains on the sidelines as a silent observer to the rituals of school life while classmates grasp every opportunity thrust at them.

The only person who seems to notice Charlie is English teacher Mr Anderson (Paul Rudd), who recognises a kindred spirit and supplies the youngster with a steady supply of extra-curricular reading.

During an American football match, Charlie plucks up the courage to chat to openly gay classmate Patrick (Ezra Miller). In turn, he introduces Charlie to his free-spirited step-sister, Sam (Emma Watson).

Reluctantly, Charlie begins to take the terrifying leaps of faith of every teenager on the cusp of adulthood.

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is a celebration of those perilous years when childhood innocence is shattered to smithereens and young men and women nervously forge new paths that will determine the rest of their lives.

A rousing soundtrack of David Bowie and Dexy’s Midnight Runners draws a nostalgic smile to offset the copious tears.

Rating: HHHII