The novel is composed entirely of letters written by troubled teen and wallflower Charlie (Logan Lerman), which makes us sympathise with him, and pulls us into his troubled teenage mind. The same effect is achieved in the film through Charlie's voiceovers, as he attempts to navigate and survive the choppy waters of his first year at high school.
Shy and without friends at first, he bonds with carefree final-year student Sam (Emma Watson) and her flamboyant step-brother Patrick (Ezra Miller). The trio becomes inseparable and Charlie goes through a rite of passage, of sorts, while Patrick and Sam get a devoted and loyal friend. It's here the film excels, as the three develop an emotional connection.
But all is not well with Charlie's mind. He's had a history of mental health issues that stems from the death of a former friend and an aunt. Here some of the more serious themes of the film are treated too delicately. His new friends temporarily lift him out of his depression but once they are set to leave for college, all that seemed stable begins to crumble.