Sometimes it is those little indie gems that cause you to pay attention to the world of cinema from week to week. "It Was You Charlie" is a dark little yarn that takes us into the psychosis of a lonely man as he deals with the world around him never quite going his way.
Everyone has a story, especially Abner (Michael D Cohen) who was once an accomplished sculpture artist and taught art at college but is now on the down spiral living as a lowly graveyard shift doorman. A heartbroken soul as he had a horrible fight with his brother who ended up taking the woman that he loves and he is consumed with guilt as he remains haunted by a car accident that took the life of the woman in the other car and he struggles with the idea of taking his own life. After a chance encounter with a free spirited cab driver (Emma Fleury) he gets inspired to turn his life around and resolve all the conflicts in his past.
A little funny and a little dark, "It Was You Charlie" is an interesting debut feature that crafts a world that doesn't lean on any tropes and where we are all just a bit more broken then we care to admit.
Writer/Director Emmanuel Shirinian has a keen eye for the fragility in humanity as this time shifting dramady makes us laugh, cry and cringe all at the same time. He shoots it well and the story jumps around while never losing our attention. The characters aren't necessarily the most likeable, but we believe everything that happens to them. While it feels like it has the structure of a short film, Shirinian's characters are interesting and engaging as we see our hero grasp with his emotional problems that have sent him to this point, in spite of some of the moments feeling a little forced and contrived as the pacing wasn't great but we were still engaged thanks to a solid leading performance.
Anchored by Michael D Cohen as our sad sack hero we buy into his uphill struggle from minute one as he seemingly cannot catch a break as nothing genuinely seems to be going his way. He's a guy who almost doesn't know his limitations, as he is seemingly in shock every single time that he fails and we can't help but want him to get over this emotional hurdle. We're never quite sure if he actually wants to kill himself or if he just feels like a dope for the failures in his life. His chemistry with the supporting players is fine, but it truly revolves around Cohen and his does a great job as this magnetically pathetic man.
Will "It Was You Charlie" light the world on fire? No, but it is a solid piece of Canadiana storytelling from a talent who I at least want to see more of.
3 out of 5 stars.
"It Was You Charlie" is playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, please check with listings for show times.