Goodbye Charlie Bright
- 1h 27min
Goodbye Charlie Bright is the humorous and heart-warming story of the friendship between two teenage boys from a tough council estate. Set during a long hard summer it charts the close but v... Read allGoodbye Charlie Bright is the humorous and heart-warming story of the friendship between two teenage boys from a tough council estate. Set during a long hard summer it charts the close but volatile relationship between Charlie and Justin.Goodbye Charlie Bright is the humorous and heart-warming story of the friendship between two teenage boys from a tough council estate. Set during a long hard summer it charts the close but volatile relationship between Charlie and Justin.
Goodbye Charlie Bright is a film for the Brits and that is enough for it to garner some sort of respect from me. The kids walk around wearing Millwall football club shirts, they talk in the heavy respective accent and their lives unfold in a setting most of us will be familiar with I can still remember the garages and apartment estate near my old secondary school and the sorts of people you may see hanging around there at certain times. But for me not to feel any sort of connection nor familiarity with these people or locations despite being relatively familiar with them in some sort of way is quite sad. Then again perhaps it's a good thing but there is nothing on offer in terms of nostalgia for someone who has lived through this period in Britain (2001) of these characters respective ages.
Instead, Love gives us a realistic look at life on an estate and introduces us to many-a caricatures of South London urban life. The film is not particularly neo-realistic and thus cannot be considered as a political film nor statement on the ways of living in Britain for those of a certain class. But Love avoids this approach, instead opting for high energy levels, black humour and causality involving the characters. The obvious problem with the film is, I think, the way it tiptoes around the more important issues such as knife and gun culture (until the very end). Instead it has its characters act in a self-promoting manner under a guise of playing chess and getting into mischief made light-hearted and 'fun' when really it's all very, very dangerous and life threatening.
The film is shameless in its attempt to get a quick guffaw and this is announced very early on when a couple of lads run stark nude through the estate, grab a football and then run off for the sanctuary of a hidden bush. Along the way they run past a young woman and the obligatory yells and hollers soon follow. The film has more so gotten across its need for childish humour and an outlandish scene good enough for a quick laugh than it has made an important point on the dangers of the young, bored and unemployed British white male of circa summer 2001. The film also hovers around the necessity to include scenes of partying, partying antics involving girls and the over consumption of alcohol. Again, this is relatively early on and offers nothing to the narrative but does act as a scene establishing who these people are and what they do. The party is a send off for a character going to the Army (Aldershot, not too far from myself) but it is for a character we do not know of, have no connection to and consequently cannot care for. I wonder if the boys at the function care that much either or is it an excuse for loud music, girls and lager?
Then there are the little things that make Goodbye Charlie Bright feel like a missed opportunity. The film's primary source of antagonism early on is in the form of a large black man that the lads steal from. Firstly, it is a shame that it is the role of a black man that must be used for this part and secondly the strand involving this plot of antagonism is developed into something interesting before being stopped dead in its tracks. Then there is the friendship with Jamie Foreman's character Tony which is introduced and developed but not followed through with. There is a little bit of antagonism with a guy who has 'made it' with his pretty wife, big car, house and pool but that comes and goes without much occurring. It was interesting for me to watch out for where the main source of antagonism was going to come from and that ended up being Phil Daniel's character Eddie who is introduced as a knife wielding, womanising racist but is then brought down to Earth with a Falkland's War related back-story although it feels like a loose attempt to throw in some Thatcherism related politics.
As I say, the film retains an 'entertaining' quality that feels real and raw but it doesn't elevate itself to any greatness. The relationship between Bright (Nicholls) and Justin (Manookian) who are probably both playing themselves gets too homo-erotic towards the end with all the rolling around, head patting and frequent use of the name 'the wife' (two girls at the beginning even shout "Queers!" at them) but even so, it cannot hold much of a torch to Love's later work nor to other respective nation's films about this subject matter like Brazil's City of God and France's La Haine.
- Jun 11, 2008