Entertainment Movies

Saturday 20 January 2018

Don't rise and follow Charlie

Paul Whitington

charlie casanova

(16, limited release, 91 minutes)

Director: Terry McMahon Stars: Emmett Scanlan, Leigh Arnold, Ruth McIntyre, Valeria Bandino

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An Irish psychological drama written and directed by Terry McMahon, Charlie Casanova is so staggeringly unpleasant, pretentious and inept that it's hard to know where to begin criticising it -- but I'll give it a shot. Emmett Scanlan is Casanova, a crass and gittish caricature of a man with a talent for disseminating unhappiness. He's a would-be property magnate -- in fact he may, God help us all, be some kind of metaphor for Celtic Tiger Ireland -- but things don't appear to be going as smoothly as he might like.

Charlie talks big and dresses like a spiv, but secretly craves the power and pleasure he feels are his divine right and have thus far eluded him. His mousy wife, Saoirse (Ruth McIntyre) adores him, but Charlie covets his best friend Jimmy's shapely spouse Una (Leigh Arnold), and has no compunction about hunting her down. In fact, he has no compunction about anything very much, and when he accidentally hits and seriously injures a working-class girl, it becomes clear that Charlie is a sociopath.

That word, though, makes him sound interesting, and Charlie is neither engaging nor remotely credible. He talks a lot, though.

In fact he never shuts up, his pointless sentences staggering on in fruitless search of non-existent punchlines, and the cumulative effect of these 'soliloquys' made me feel like I'd encountered a talking urinal. Charlie, and possibly his author, may consider themselves philosophers, and as I mentioned it's even possible we're being given yet another cack-handed lecture on how we lost our souls during the boom.

But it's really impossible to say, because so muddled and undergraduate are the film's mechanics that no coherent message or purpose is visible.

What is visible, however, is a nasty and persistent undercurrent of misogyny that cannot be entirely blamed on Casanova.

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