Charlie Valentine Reviews
sex violence money and double crossing just what i needed
Though the cinematography is slick and attractive, the editing is extremely flawed. This leaves the film disjointed and choppy; certain scenes become complete non-sequiturs, some of the action gets muddy, and jump cuts occasionally get ahead of themselves. Another round in the editing room could seriously improve the storytelling, because the right elements for an extremely compelling and rewarding character drama are there, they're just poorly communicated. The structure of something great is present, but it isn't filled out.
My second biggest problem was Raymond J. Barry. He was dull and often awkward as the eponymous gangster, there's only the occasional flash of the charisma and appeal his character is supposed to have. He delivers almost all his dialogue in an unsteady, disinterested mumble, and gritty realism may be unintelligible, but realism of that kind certainly puts a damper on the plot and characterisation. The other actors were uniformly excellent, (especially Michael Weatherly who shone with genuine brilliance every time he was given half a chance), though none of them have quite as much to do as they should. Danny and Charlie's Parole Officer both needed more development as individuals and a little more background would have helped the father/son relationship a lot.
Give me a reason why Danny admires Charlie so much and I would have been more willing to go along for the ride with them. Their reunion and Charlie's allure and charm as a successful gangster was rushed past and barely present, respectively. Danny's first defining character trait is uneasiness with authority and a fervent desire to remain out of prison. Why does he then turn around and become a disciple of his father without any kind of intermediate process of rationalisation? Yes, he wants to hold on to his father at any cost, but where is the indecision and what about Charlie's behaviour resolves him? As it was, his hero worship and abandonment issues must be extrapolated and his anger with his father is more prominent than the idealisation that makes him want to follow in the old man's footsteps. I know where the story is coming from, because it is such a classic story, but I would have preferred to actually see it on the screen instead of inferring it.
Basically, a clearer emotional progression was needed for Danny and frankly, I didn't find Charlie likeable enough for his place in the story to function. He's despicable, but he should be charmingly despicable and I was not convinced he was charming.