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It's not a Hollywood or TV relationships movie - "Charlotte Sometimes" is a well-conceived, mature delivery on relationships - sex and love inclusive in all its naturalness
I don't think this is a film unique to Asians, it just so happened that the characters are Asian. There are hues of cultural family/generational expectations, like the scenes of Michael and his aunt. The dinner table scene somehow reminds me of writer-director Mina Shum's 1994 "Double Happiness," which included Chinese-Canadian family dinner scenes with Sandra Oh in the lead; also brings to mind director Wayne Wang's 1985 "Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart."
Overall, I felt there are similarities in filmmaking style between Lynne Ramsay's "Morvern Callar" and Eric Byler's "Charlotte Sometimes" - the value of quiet moments, sparse dialog scenes, minimal lighting and silhouette shots; depiction of lonely feelings, alone-ness all by her/himself; loving yet not openly/readily showing so secrets, pains, longings kept within. The storytelling approach is resonant of each other: not revealing it all to the audience, yet using music - here Byler has included songs by Cody ChestnuTT, to set the pace and tempo of the film. The presentation of relationship psyche is mature - the brief exchanges come across natural and of everyday ease. Yet, yes, it does feel like a thriller, emotion-wise. It's a tug of war. There is sexual tension. The sex in bed scenes - may be as sexy and suggestive as cable late nights, but it's not pornographic. Its camerawork integrally delivers with the soundwork - the grunts and noise of lovemaking are not forced but can be tantalizing.
Secrets and lies - yes there are: the relationship between Michael the quiet mechanic who reads (also the landlord) upstairs and Lori the pretty actress neighbor & friend downstairs; the relationship of Lori and Justin (her bed fellow and live-in boyfriend); the ménage à trois between Michael, Lori and Justin; the relationship of Michael and Darcy the stranger; the relationship between the two women - Lori and Darcy (or Charlotte sometimes); the other triangle of Michael, Darcy and Lori, and not to miss the Darcy and Justin moments. On the surface, simple and quiet as Michael would have it (seemingly so) - there are a lot goings on what lies beneath.
"Charlotte Sometimes" may not be for everyone (NFE), but it's definitely a formidable mature feature film first from w-d, co-editor, and co-producer, Eric Byler. Bravo to him and the actors and crew of this film, and to VisionBox Pictures for taking on the distribution.
For contrast, try w-d James F. Robinson's 1998 romantic fantasy: "Still Breathing" with Brendan Fraser and Joanna Going. There's also w-d Alan Jacob's 1994 down to earth fairytale of a relationship: "Nina Takes a Lover" with Laura San Giacomo and Paul Rhys. Both I've comments posted on IMDb.
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