Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Quick Film Review | Charlie Bartlett (2008)

There are some days where my mind isn't in the mood to extensively take note of a film and then write about it. Instead, I sometimes let a film clear my mind and change my thought process; which is becoming a rarity for me. But that doesn't mean when I watch a film for fun rather than to review it, that I don't have anything to say about it. 

Think of this 'Quick Review' segment as a brainstorm. This is the first film I've done this for, but the way in which I have gone about this is a process I'm going to stick to. That process being watching the film, making note of my immediate thoughts and listing them here.

I was going to form my notes into paragraphs, but then it would end up like any other review I write. Alternatively, I'm going to take whatever the synopsis and information for the film is on IMDB and put it here, then list my thoughts as they were when I wrote them, i.e. bullet points. 

Enough of the bullshit, let's get to it. 

Charlie Bartlett (IMDB details): 

Director: Jon Poll 
Writer: Gustin Nash
Release Date: 22 February 2008
Rated: R
Country: USA 
Runtime: 97 min 
Aspect Ratio: 1.85: 1 
Cast: Anton Yelchin (Charlie Bartlett), Robert Downey Jr. (Nathan Gardner), Hope Davis (Marilyn Bartlett), Kat Dennings (Susan Gardner), Tyler Hilton (Murphy Bivens), Mark Rendall (Kip Crombwell), Dylan Taylor (Len Arbuckle), Megan Park (Whitney Drummond), Jake Epstein (Dustin Lauderbach), Jonathan Malen (Jordan Sunder), Derek McGrath (Superintendent Sedgwick) and Stephen Young (Dr. Stan Weathers)

Awkward teenager Charlie Bartlett (Anton Yelchin) has trouble fitting in at a new high school. Charlie needs some friends fast, and decides that the best way to find them is to appoint himself the resident psychiatrist. He becomes one of the most popular guys in school by dolling out advice and, occasionally, medication, to the student body. (x)

Why this film? 

Charlie Bartlett was recommended to me by a friend, sadly following the sudden death of Anton Yelchin. I'd only seen Yelchin in House of D (dir. David Duchovny, 2004), but his performance was phenomenal for an actor of his age. He only furthers that here, and I'm glad that he got to showcase his acting ability so much through the 2000s before the events that occurred this year. 

The Notes: 

  • Reminded me of Yelchin's performance in House of D.
  • I don't know what it is about Yelchin's acting, he just slays every role without necessarily doing anything. He doesn't overact or underact, he just acts. He was born to do what he did. 
  • No stereotypical romantic narrative. I was waiting for Charlie to do something to anger Susan (or the other way round) for them to split up, but instead it was more between Charlie and Susan's father Nathan. Honestly, the most refreshing part of this film was to know it wasn't going to lead to heartbreak between the protagonist and their love interest, like a lot of these films do. 
  • Charlie self-projecting himself on to each other.
  • Really can relate to this, mental illness is a struggle that I've had to learn to deal with for anxiety reasons and whilst medication helps, its films like this that are the real cure. 
  • Charlie reminds us that we aren't alone, and reminds himself once everyone believes him. 
  • Loved Kat Dennings; love her in any role really. 
  • Kinda gave me a Some Kind of Wonderful (dir. Howard Deutch, 1987) vibe. Eric Stoltz has similar acting chops to Yelchin. Both their characters are similar in personality, both are dealing with shit at home - their fathers - and both form alliances with school bullies. In Charlie's case, it's Murphy. In Keith's case, it's Duncan. 

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