Charlie takes an odyssey through grief during a fall weekend in New York City. His encounters are planned and chance: with a homeless man who sleeps by his building, with a friend who's ... See full summary »
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Charlie takes an odyssey through grief during a fall weekend in New York City. His encounters are planned and chance: with a homeless man who sleeps by his building, with a friend who's dying, with the couple who lives (and noisily loves) in the flat above him, with a bartender and a one-night-stand he follows home, and with a tattooed stranger whom he seeks out and befriends. Along the way, Charlie inhabits a city full of moments of violence and of stories and legends: a kidney thief, a microwaved poodle, a rat in a hot dog bun, a baby left on a car top, a tourist's toothbrush, needles in public-phone change slots. Charlie lives and tells his own stories. What caused his melancholy? Written by
"Urbania" is a film that deals with tough issues in a complex way. Directed by first-timer Jon Shear with amazing surehandedness, "Urbania" tells the story of recently-singled Charlie, who has seemingly become disillusioned from society. Shear's script, based on the play "Urban Folk Tales," is a sharp and occasionally hilarious look at a gay man's search for redemption and love. Obsessed with a man he's only seen on the street, Charlie wanders the streets, looking for love, and hoping to rekindle his past relationship. It's a simple story, dealing with some hard issues in a non-linear way.
Dan Futterman is heartbreaking in a very challenging role that requires him to gain our sympathy in spite of his problems. On top of it all, however, is Shear, who handles this material with affection and heart. His direction manages to be moody, atmospheric, suspenseful, and scary, all the while maintaining our sympathy for Charlie. Thankfully, just as the film gets too serious for its own good, Shear throws in numerous asides to urban folk tales and reenacts them. It's very funny, but in the end, it's as cathartic a film as you will see all year. Do yourself a favor and catch this emotionally-haunting film but remember: bring tissues. You'll need 'em.
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