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CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES tells the story of Michael (Michael Idemoto), an automobile mechanic that rents part of his converted house to Lori (Eugenia Yuan) and her lover Justin (Matt Westmore). Lori and Justin's relationship is based almost entirely on sex, so after their frequent coital encounters, Lori finds herself knocking on Michael's door in search of emotional intimacy. Lori and Michael talk, watch videos and basically just hang out together. They are friends, but clearly Michael is in love with her.
So Michael doesn't have to hear the sounds of Lori and Justin's love making, he often escapes to a local bar for a drink or two. One day, Lori asks Michael if she can fix him up on a date. He declines.
On a subsequent visit to the bar, Michael meets Darcy (Jacqueline Kim). Intrigued by her, Michael begins to spend time with her. Although Darcy's clearly interested and Michael's attracted to her, he decides to wait for them to have sex. This is true despite that fact that Darcy tells him that she is going out of town.
While Darcy's away, Michael examines his feelings toward her and learns more about her in the process. We also discover that things aren't quite what they seem.
In Eric Byler's film, which he wrote (based on a story by Byler and Jeff Liu) and directed, the basic situations are set up very nicely. There isn't the compulsion like some new filmmakers to explain every detail. On the other hand, some of the dialog is obvious, especially when it comes to Michael's expression of his feelings toward Darcy. However, given the nature of Michael's character, that's not a significant shortcoming of the script. A major logic problem that develops at the end is a problem. It causes unnecessary confusion in the final act of the film.
In terms of character, Michael is much too passive. Rather than show some initiative, he waits for others to take action before he does anything. Simply put, there is no fight in him. As a result, it's hard to connect with Michael on an emotional level. This is really a shame, because being in love with a woman that only wants to be your friend is a situation in which most men can relate.
That aside, the other main characters are pretty much on point. Justin is a self-absorbed ladies man that is unwilling to share himself emotionally. Lori is the pretty and sweet girl that always feels unsatisfied in relationships because she's always attracted to emotionally unavailable men. There's something very different going on with Darcy, but you'll have to see the film to find out.
Overall, CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES presents a very worthwhile scenario, but doesn't live up to its potential. For those looking for an intelligent film that presents its characters in interesting ways, it is definitely worth a look. It features an attractive cast with generally strong, believable performances. I just wish Michael's character had a little more fire in him.
The film is nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards. One is for the "John Cassavetes Award" for best feature made for under $500,000. The other is for "Best Supporting Female" recognizing Jacqueline Kim's fine performance as Darcy.
While not a great film, CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES is better than a lot of what Hollywood has to offer. It's also an apportunity for audiences to see some fresh young talent in a film with something on it's mind
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