TIFF 2015 Review: Being Charlie
In Rob Reiner’s glorified after school special Being Charlie, the title teen struggles with addiction, entering and exiting rehab while fighting with his father and falling in love with a fellow patient.
Charlie’s privilege – his dad is a former star actor turned gubernatorial candidate who has at least two massive homes in southern California – and the ease with which he dismisses authority make him unremarkable if not downright unlikeable. Having played a similarly unexpressive teen in Jurassic World, Nick Robinson finds some range in a role and film that sharply oscillates tone without ever really knowing what it wants to be.
That is, this 97 minute exercise in predictability and emotional manipulation gets dark and gritty when the film needs to climax, but enjoys creating typical conflict relationships. Charlie’s dad is too busy running for office to care, and so he lashes out at those in power, which later on includes Common as a halfway house director.
Charlie rises and falls, at one point facing the prospect of being sent to prison, and then next, following a montage, is two months sober and having a jolly good time. At best his character is conflicted and hypocritical, but those around him don’t seem to follow any reason or development. His father, and his female interest, are different people depending on what the script needs, and there seems to be no answer to what ails Charlie.
That would be fine in a different movie, but Being Charlie, with it’s odd use of brief gratuitous nudity, wants to make a sharp statement in a film that is far too nice and neat.