Ezra Miller’s Patrick serves as a smart counterbalance for Charlie and, for many audience members, will easily be the standout performance of the film. Miller brings an infectious energy to Patrick and it’s easy to see why so many of the movie’s characters look to him as the patriarch of their group. That said, along with all of his over-the-top moments of levity, Patrick also has one of the most insightful and demanding story arcs. Thankfully, Miller is up to the task – delivering several commanding Perks of Being a Wallflower scenes.
Critics have identified primary themes of teenage reality and nostalgia. According to David Edelstein of the New York Magazine , Chbosky captures the "feeling you belong when among friends, yet you'd soon be alone" and notes that "the pain of loss ... [is] almost as intense as the bliss ... it's nostalgia with an emphasis on nostos, pain [sic]."  Marty Beckerman of Word Riot says that The Perks of Being a Wallflower connects with young people because its scenes are "so universal and happen to so many teenagers."  Chbosky wanted to convey respect for teenagers, to "validate and respect and celebrate what [teenagers] are going through every day",  and said the novel is for "anyone who's felt like an outcast."