An introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world.
Based on the novel written by Stephen Chbosky, this is about 15-year-old Charlie (Logan Lerman), an endearing and naive outsider, coping with first love (Emma Watson), the suicide of his best friend, and his own mental illness while struggling to find a group of people with whom he belongs. The introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors, Sam and Patrick, who welcome him to the real world.
Charlie is a shy teenager without friends that has just joined the high-school. He misses his best friend, who had committed suicide, and he writes letters to an imaginary friend telling his feelings. Further, Charlie has a mental illness problem in his past. Soon Charlie befriends the veterans Patrick, who is gay, and his stepsister Sam and they become best friends. Charlie wants to be a writer and he also becomes the favorite student of his teacher of literature, Mr. Anderson, who lends him books. Sam and Patrick introduce Charlie to their friends and Charlie falls in love with Sam, but he does not have self-confidence to date her. Charlie discovers a new world and feels happy with his friends, and he dates their common friend Mary Elizabeth. But when they end their relationship, Patrick asks Charlie to stay away from them for a while and soon he triggers his mental illness again. He goes to the hospital where a doctor finally discloses the origin of his problem.
As a freshmen in High School, Charlie, portrayed by Logan Lerman, struggles with bullies, depression, bad influences and girls. Based on the book written by Stephan Chbosky, the Perks of Being a Wallflower thrives as a film. While Charlie wants to survive high school, he forces himself to participate in school functions, to prevent himself from falling back into his depression. The not-so-typical teenager finds himself being taken under the wing by a few seniors, and has never been so excited to have friends again. Finally being happy, Charlie experiments with drugs, sex and the party scene, but underlying problems from the past cause Charlie to spiral out of control.
Charlie was bullied and largely friendless in middle school for being a shy bookworm, the same which he vows not to happen as he enters his freshman year in high school, although he will have to navigate those hallways on his own, as who was his only true friend, Michael, committed suicide just before the summer. Charlie's year does not start well as the only person whom he seems to connect with is his Advanced English teacher, Mr. Anderson, who can see that Charlie is the one person in the class who truly does enjoy literature for literature's sake and not just as a means to a good grade. However, Charlie is eventually befriended by some seniors, step-brother and sister Patrick and Sam, and their small group of friends, Mary Elizabeth, Alice and Bob who all consider themselves misfits. Even with this accepting group, Charlie admits he still doesn't know how to act around people, a misstep which could threaten those friendships. If a misstep is to occur, it probably would concern his growing attraction for Sam, who is dating a college student named Craig. All Charlie does know is that his blackouts, letters he writes to his "friend", and specific flashbacks - his conscious and subconscious coping mechanisms - have lessened the more he has spent time with these friends. But he may not be able to escape fully his past, specifically issues about who he considered the person he loved most in the world before meeting Sam, namely his now deceased Aunt Helen.
- The movie opens with Charlie (Logan Lerman) writing a letter to an anonymous pen pal, discussing his upcoming first day in high school. On his first day, he is harassed by classmates but befriends his English teacher, Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd).
Charlie attends a school football game alone and notices the flamboyant Patrick (Ezra Miller), who is the only senior in his freshman shop class. Patrick asks Charlie to sit with him. They are joined by Patrick's stepsister Sam (Emma Watson), and Charlie immediately notices her beauty. Upon arriving home, he witnesses Candace's boyfriend hitting her, something Charlie is especially sensitive about as his Aunt Helen (Melanie Lynskey) was also abused. Candace persuades him not to tell their parents. Charlie dances with Sam and Patrick at homecoming and goes to a party with them afterwards. There, he meets their other friends, Bob, Mary Elizabeth, and Alice. He also sees Sam with her boyfriend Craig, which makes him jealous. He eats a pot brownie, and the group is amused by his observations. While in the kitchen, Charlie tells Sam that his best friend Michael shot himself last May. He then goes upstairs to the bathroom, leaving Sam shocked.
Upstairs, Charlie sees Patrick and Brad (Johnny Simmons), the school's star football player, kissing. Patrick tells Charlie that Brad doesn't want anyone to know about their relationship (as his father would disapprove) and asks him to keep it a secret. Still high, Charlie agrees. Later, Sam whispers to Patrick about what Charlie has gone through and they welcome him in their group of friends.
While driving him home, Sam hears a song from the radio and demands that Patrick drive through a tunnel. She stands up in the back of the pickup truck and sways like she's dancing. Again, Charlie is stunned by her beauty.
As Christmas draws closer, Charlie helps Sam to study for her SATs and their friends participate in a Secret Santa gift exchange. On the last night of the exchange, Sam takes Charlie into her room and shows him her gift for him, a typewriter. The two start talking about first kisses. Charlie says that he has never kissed a girl, and Sam reveals that her first kiss was from her father's boss, who was molesting her. She tells Charlie that she wants his first kiss to be with somebody who loves him, and the two kiss.
Charlie's Birthday(which is on Christmas Eve) arrives, and he remembers his Aunt Helen, who died on the same night in a car accident after getting him a present. Later, at a New Year's Eve party, he takes LSD and has more flashbacks to the night his aunt died. He is eventually found passed out in the snow by the police.
Charlie attends the Sadie Hawkins dance with Mary Elizabeth. Afterwards, they go to her house and make out. She then declares that he is her boyfriend. He has no interest in her but continues the relationship because he doesn't know how to break up with her.
While playing truth or dare at a party, Patrick dares Charlie to kiss the prettiest girl in the room, and he kisses Sam rather than Mary Elizabeth. Both girls are enraged, and Patrick tells Charlie to stay away until things cool down.
Weeks pass and his friends are still ignoring him. In addition, his flashbacks to the night his aunt died are getting worse. Bob tells Charlie that Brad's father caught him and Patrick kissing. Brad comes to school with a bruise on his face but claims he was jumped in a parking lot. Patrick and Brad fight in the cafeteria after Brad calls him a "faggot." Brad's friends then begin to beat up Patrick, until Charlie intervenes. Afterwards, he reconciles with his friends.
Patrick is upset after breaking up with Brad and he and Charlie become closer. One night, Patrick kisses Charlie to no reaction, then breaks down because of his unhappiness. Sam breaks up with Craig after finding out he has been cheating on her.
Graduation nears and Sam is accepted to Penn State. After her going away party, Charlie helps her pack. Sam then asks Charlie why he never asked her out. After several heartfelt confessions, they begin to kiss, but Charlie pulls away when Sam touches his inner thigh. She asks him what's wrong, but he tells her that nothing's wrong and continues to kiss her.
The next day, Charlie is unnerved as he watches Sam leave for school. When he arrives at his empty home, he begins to have a breakdown, flashing back to the memory of his Aunt Helen touching his thigh. He calls Candace and tells her it's his fault their aunt died, and that maybe he wanted her to die. Candace tells her friends to dispatch police on their house. Before Charlie can hurt himself, the police arrives and he blacks out.
He wakes up in the hospital. His physician, Dr. Burton (Joan Cusack) explains to Charlie's parents (Dylan McDermott and Kate Walsh) that his Aunt Helen was sexually abusing him, and that Charlie repressed the memory because he blamed himself for her death. After Charlie is discharged from the hospital a few weeks later, Sam and Patrick visit him and take him to their favorite restaurant.
They once again drive into the tunnel, and Sam tells Charlie that she finally found the song that was playing the last time they were there. Charlie climbs into the back of the truck and reminisces about life as whole. He kisses Sam, stands up and screams as they exit the tunnel.