At a business conference, Charlie and his friends are having a grand time drinking, laughing and playing a card game of Charlie's that puts fate in the draw of the card. Everything comes crashing down when Charlie leaves the hotel and ends up running down a woman. Instead of reporting it to the police he decides to play it off as nothing happens but the incident sparks something in Charlie. Now he finds himself tumbling out of control fueled by his own neurotic tendencies and he's dragging everyone down with him in what can only end in misery and death.
Brink Vision has brought the infamous "Charlie Casanova" to North America. An independent Irish film that has had many ups and downs over the course of its life, and when it finally found it's way to festivals and screenings, it managed to piss off every film critic in the UK. Shortly after, it received plenty of positive attention and was well received by some of the larger film festivals only then to be blacklisted again by festivals, audiences and critics.
"Charlie Casanova" is about a man in his mid-30's; hyper intelligent upper class fellow who's got it made. At a business conference with his friends and their respective wives Charlie ends up running down a working class woman. This incident causes Charlie's sociopathic tendencies to boil over and cause him to drag everyone down into a deep dark pit of misery, charged by his narcissism. What started out as fun time of partying now has turned into a twisted mind game for Charlie that will tear the lives of his friends and family apart.
Until I received the press release for "Charlie Casanova", I had not heard of the movie or the controversy surrounding it. After I watched it, I could understand some of the distain the general audience held for the movie. "Charlie Casanova" is an incredibly dark and hateful movie. To be honest, I can't say there was any real joy to be had in watching it. That's not to say that it's bad. Quite the opposite, really, the subject matter and title character of the movie come from some place real in our world's current society, regardless of country. While it's an Irish film dealing the current issues in Ireland, the character Charlie and his attitude towards the working class can easily be identified with the US's culture. Because of that, I didn't feel the movie provided too much of a social commentary but rather it was more of a a social reflection, particularly the middle/upper class.
Often and needlessly compared to "American Psycho" then dismissed as being inferior, "Charlie Casanova" is a character piece about a true narcissistic sociopath. As the tagline said, "You don't know him…but he already hates you." This statement couldn't be truer, and while Charlie is criticized for being unlikable, I found that's what made this movie feel more real as opposed to something like "American Psycho". That film wanted you to like the lead character and all of his psychotic behavior, "Charlie Casanova" on the other hand, like a true sociopath, does not give a fuck if you like him or not. Not the movie. Not the character. He is a scumbag and it's the way the character should be. The movie is about him spiraling out of control and how he drags those around him down with him. How he manipulates the weak and is even willing to kill those who he feels are inferior for no other reason that just because.
In the movie, there is a bit of narration from Charlie where he says, "You know me. You know my type and you don't like me." It's true and it was captured the way it should have been with Terry McMahon's writing and directing, along with Emmett Scanlan's performance. Charlie isn't a person I would like in real life so why would I want to like the character in a piece of fiction? "Charlie Casanova" is considered a commentary on working class but it felt more like one on the upper class as the movie seems to captured the attitude they hold towards their fellow man -- a seething hatred for those they feel are beneath them and are ruining Western society.
This is why I believe the movie is so disliked. Not that people think it's a bad movie but because the movie has a mean streak to it that I have not seen in some time and is down right nasty. It's not in a silly or unbelievable nature that you see in cheap shock horror like "Srpski Film". "Charlie Casanova" and the cruelty it exudes weighs so heavily on a viewer because it comes from some place real -- it features real attitudes and world views that are prominent in our current world. It shoves it in our faces when we do not want to be reminded of it, and would opt for a movie about a guy who chases hookers around with chainsaws and gives us quips to quote on our social networking pages. Of course, instead of acknowledging that, the movie is simply brushed off as being amateurish and inferior.
I'll admit though that "Charlie Casanova" is not an easy watch because there's nothing there to enjoy. It's not something I would consider entertaining. I did think it was a good movie because it featured a well written character that had a strong performance behind it from the lead actor. "Charlie Casanova" also carries an atmosphere that matches the title character's attitude which can make the movie uncomfortable and unenjoyable for certain viewers. It's not an exciting movie either but it is a well done piece about a person spiraling out of control due to their own psychotic disorders and how they are able to take others down with them due to their insecurities and their fragile emotional states that allows them to be manipulated.
Again, the tagline said it best: You don't know him…but he already hates you.