What at first seems to be a charming, if standard coming of age in high school story is almost rendered unrelatable by a very dark turn in the third act.
Depressed freshman wallflower Charlie (played by a likable frazzled Logan Lerman) who deeply loves his friend Sam (Emma Watson, who is magnetic despite an inconsistent American accent) because she reminds him of his deceased aunt. When Charlie and Sam finally hook up, something unlocks in Charlie’s memory and he realizes that his beloved aunt sexually abused him as a child, a revelation that disturbs him so profoundly that he is hospitalized.
This twist retroactively undercuts writer/director Stephen Chbosky’s semi-universal story of fitting in and making friends, transforming Charlie’s high school experience into a very specific type of emotional reckoning that we are suddenly asked to pity rather than relate to.
Ezra Miller is spectacularly charismatic as Sam’s gay step-brother, Patrick.