From the opening scene we know we are in for a treat. Cinematographer Luc Montpellier (Take This Waltz) pulls us slowly away from a tranquil river surrounded by trees and then slowly pans over a car accident that has just taken place. This contrasts nicely with the next scene where we find the protagonist Abner, alone in a grand but startlingly empty apartment. He is fussing over a model replica of the accident scene. In the next scene he attempts to throw himself out of his apartment window but gets stuck because the window –which is propped open with a nude sculpture of a woman– is not opened wide enough. This is one of the few moments of comic relief in an otherwise dark film.
Michael Cohen displays his diverse range in his role as Abner a former professor of fine art and prolific sculptor now working a dead-end security job by night. The wide aspect ration emphasizes his small stature and makes Abner seem even more exposed and vulnerable. So much so that we are kept on edge wondering what further tragedies are around the corner for this sensitive soul.
It Was You Charlie, is the impressive first feature film from Toronto director Emmanuel Shirinian. The Non linear narrative plays with the unpredictability of memory in a similar vein to Memento. Like Wes Anderson, Shirinian has created a unique world for his characters to inhabit; one that resembles our own in many ways but is just slightly off in others. This lends the film a timeless quality as does Shirinian conscious effort to limit the amount of tech devices featured in the film.
Part of what makes the film so interesting is the successful mix of genres which can usually spell disaster but in this case are blended seamlessly into one another. It Was You Charlie leaves the viewer satisfied on many levels.