Logan Lehman shimmers as Charlie, a much too intelligent, much too introspective teen facing his first days at High School. Also, his best friend has just shot himself. Not exactly the best combination for anyone facing the jock-heavy world of American teen hell.
And then the only friend he does make is his English teacher, Mr Anderson (a very dapper looking Paul Rudd), who starts plying him with all the classics from To Kill A Mockingbird to On The Road.
But, determined to ‘participate’ and carve a nook of his own in a world of pushy freshmen and essays, Charlie grabs some nachos, sits tentatively down next to Patrick (Ezra Miller) at a ball game, and life kicks in.
Emma Watson successfully sheds her Hermione roots as damaged but beautiful Sam, while Miller and his razor sharp cheek bones steal almost every scene as the tortured, charismatic Patrick. They tumble along vibrantly with a gothic Buddhist, a jean-based kleptomaniac and a harmless druggy with a penchant for bubbles, twirling through Rocky Horror Picture Show performances (see Lehman in very tiny gold pants and Miller in equally skimpy suspenders) – a collection of misfits spiralling in and out of control.
The soundtrack is amazing and littered with The Smiths; it is music you blare as loud as you can through the speakers of your first (preferably beat up) car while eating chips and daydreaming about your first love.
It’s not all your usual adolescent drama though. The plot darkens: Charlie starts blacking out, eating questionable brownies, juddering along with bruised knuckles and a worrisome soul, with a raft of memories threatening to capsize him.
For fans of the novel, the author Stephen Chbosky luckily wrote the screenplay and directed the film, so the sweet, angsty heart of the story hasn’t been lost. It’s just been catapulted into Technicolor. The mix tape songs that wind through the book pour from the screen instead.
It makes you want to dance and whoop like there is nothing and nobody else in the world, cling to the back of a truck and speed through a tunnel, or just be 16 again.