What is it about the Smiths that makes the melancholic 80s band something of a Bat Signal for cultured and cute vintage-wearing dream girls? In writer-director Stephen Chbosky’s new The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a wonderful film based on Chbosky’s own novel, the pixieish, Smiths-adoring love interest, Sam, is played by Emma Watson, in her first significant post-Hermione role. Sam’s suitor, Charlie, is played by Logan Lerman. Perhaps inevitably, he is a clinically depressed introvert who befriends Sam and her punky stepbrother, Patrick—the inestimable Ezra Miller—at a high-school football game. Charlie and Sam soon reveal their shared love of British glum-pop, including the Smiths’ “Asleep,” which is ironic, or appropriate, because the film details how Charlie finally wakes up thanks to Sam’s tender, nonjudgmental companionship. The metaphor is not as heavy-handed as it sounds.
If Hollywood were a high-school cafeteria—a tremendous stretch of the imagination!—the three young leads would most certainly sit at the center of the cool table. Watson and Lerman will next star in Darren Aronofsky’s big-screen adaptation of Genesis chapters 6 to 9, Noah, while Miller will play opposite Mia Wasikowska in Madame Bovary, providing an even greater service to teenagers than showcasing the triumph of the loner: giving them a way around readingMadame Bovary.