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Being Charlie 

Wednesday, May 11 2016
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Rob Reiner's Being Charlie exists in that worn-out zone of mutual incomprehension — "Parents/Kids just don't understand" — and then fails to add anything new to an already exhausted genre. The direction itself is chiefly to blame, but the narrative structure is also a mess. Initially, we don't see the behavior that led Charlie (Nick Robinson, whose full-lipped pout is his actorly crutch) to rehab. We also don't see his troubled family history. By the time both are enacted, too much time has passed in the film for the audience to trust or distrust anyone's point of view. Robinson doesn't yet have the inner resources to demand our attention, sympathy, or allegiance. He's not helped by many of the script's tonal missteps (like comedy mined from mothers crying at a rehab center). Shooting a gritty close-up of a needle in an arm vein isn't convincing when the imagined world around it is this artificial.Addiction, for those of us who've seen it firsthand, is burdensome, a psychological weight for the sufferer and their loved ones. On film, it can be made to look and feel real. Requiem for a Dream (2000); Half Nelson (2006); and Keep the Lights On (2012) are just three fine examples of that specific kind of heaviness. Being Charlie wants to make one addict's problems at once light and substantial but fails by confusing these two conflicting approaches.

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