Charlotte Sometimes Reviews
Remarkably slow (or in indie-speak "understated"), this drama attempts to milk each moment, each over-wroughtly contrived situation for the most it can wring. Slow pans and pregnant pauses punctuate the drama, and while I found every plot twist indicated and predictable, I can't say that there was much that could have been done with this story that wasn't done. The performances were all what one might expect from an indie drama: strong, but ultimately actors being actors.
Overall, I think the story would have been better served by a short film rather than an extended drama.
The story involves four late 20's early 30's adults and concentrates on all the lies we tell to others and ourselves, especially in areas of the heart.
At the center is Michael, a lonely, quiet man who inherited his uncles' home and car repair business (more that he was the last man standing than anything else, as the rest of his relatives either didn't want the business or had moved away).
Michael has renovated the home into two apartments, so he has tenants to cover his expenses. He rents to a cohabitating couple who have been together for 10 months. In his lonliness he can hear their carnal carrying ons, which only add to his sense of detachment. He believes that he is in love with the woman, but since they are good friends, doesn't want to ruin the friendship with a confession of his feelings.
Into this odd triangle comes another woman, Darby, who attracts not only Michael, but the male renter. What then insues revolves around betrayals and secrets, of which I'm not going to speak further.
The beauty of this film is that we are introduced to the charactors slowly, letting the viewer learn about them, just as the other charactors on screen are learning. What is ultimately revealed is a very impressive depth to three out of the four charactors, who are all flawed, yet very real in their feelings and motivations.
The lighting is exquisite throughout, often accentuating the mood, and the clever use of camera angles adds depth without being showy and detracting from the content.
There is a beautifully filmed sequence that takes place outside of a cheap motel. A man's soul is brought into question, and as he enters his car to ponder what level he has sunk to, the car's interior lights slowly fade, dimming his face until he is a shadowed silhouette.
The title of the film inferes something important, and perhaps I took the meaning in the wrong way; though it was interesting to see that, while I may have been mistaken, in a way I was not; as who we are is subject to change given who we are with and the environment that surrounds us. The person we show to others may or may not be who we truly are - the reasons for the falsehood may be medical, or perhaps just a safety net, keeping us from suffering. We think we control the spin, but in reality the spin often controls us. Charlotte Sometimes explores these boundaries with a sure hand, while leaving us to decide exactly what will happen after the film fades to black.
I like what I read on Wikipedia, "..Charlotte Sometimes is a "mysterious and erotic" romance exploring the kinds of love for which there are no names or clear arrangements"
With "Charlotte Sometimes", director Eric Byler shows skill in his ability to focus our attention solely on four main characters. We don't care about anything else, although we could have specific questions that aren't answered (What do some of the characters do for a living? Was this shot, and meant to be set, in Los Angeles?). These questions, however, do not need to be answered because this movie is solely about relationships and the messy connections and misunderstandings among the four characters we get to know.
The most admirable quality, for me, is the subtle tone running through this film (especially, and ironically, when two characters make love). This subtlety is compared, in terms of sheer effectivness, to the intense urgency running through "Better Luck Tomorrow".
The marvelously understated tone can, and should be, equally credited to both the actors and the filmmakers. The important thing audiences must remember with "Charlotte Sometimes" is it exists entirely, and surely, as a character study... nothing more. It does not attempt to harbor groundbreaking revelations (although there are some revelations, they would be better termed realizations) it is steady in its storytelling, keeping focus on emotional connections and the painful uncertainties we all experience in relationships, especially in people we know well.
As a footnote, the film works on more levels than just in its execution: even the tagline is loaded.
"Sometimes the truth is in the lie."
I wish I could explain this wonderfully appropriate oxymoron, but the beauty in this film's intelligence should be experienced, not explained.