- Director: Terry McMahon
- Details: Ireland/91mins 16
It might not sound like a compliment but Charlie Casanova is a dirty, nasty, grubby movie. 'Enjoying' this movie is a non-starter. Ditto' liking' it.' Appreciating' it might be the best way to go but it will certainly be a talking point.
Charlie Casanova (Scanlan) is a moustachioed (upper?) middle class sociopath who hates - and that's a seething hate that spits bile through gritted teeth kind of hate – the scumbags and knackers that knock about Dublin. But his hate doesn't stop there: his mate Kevin (Hannaway) and Kevin's wife Una (Arnold), whom he's joylessly carrying on an affair with, are also a focus for his ire. When driving through inner city Dublin looking to score, Charlie knocks down a girl; instead of getting help and in letting his trusted deck of cards decide the outcome, Charlie abdicates responsibility, just as he feels society has. The act unleashes a hatred for humanity that up until now Charlie was been barely able to supress…
It's a committed performance from Scanlan, who is asked a lot by writer-director Terry McMahon. Scanlan is the perfect mixture of outright nasty and darkly comic and in two standout scenes displays his screen presence. The first is in a Garda station interview room where Charlie first denies that it's him on CCTV setting fire to his own car before humiliatingly deconstructing one guard's life; the second is a stand-up comedy night in a 'working class' club where Charlie lets loose on its audience. The latter is an example of Charlie Casanova's strengths and weaknesses: McMahon does write some interesting and provoking (and sometimes funny) diatribes but they can be relentless and lose their point in a deluge of spiky words.
Made for less than a grand (McMahon called on all and sundry - except 'timewasters' - to help him make it over two years ago), the budget restrictions sometimes work in the film's favour. With the grainy visuals, McMahon's handheld camera shoots in tight quarters - a corner of a room, a toilet - and bunches up the actors on top of each other so they're squeezed into the frame. It's claustrophobic and uncomfortable and itchy filled with rotten people and you just want to get out of there.
Review by Gavin Burke | 16:00 | Friday 11th May 2012 | Movie Review
Charlie Casanova is an angry, primal howl of a film. While it's interesting to see an Irish film that is provocative and pushes its audience's buttons, it's definitely a hard sell and will no doubt divide people right down the middle. Charlie (Emmett Scanlan) is a Dublin sociopath who hates women, the working classes and, well, just about everyone else. When he knocks someone down with his car, he turns to his deck of cards to decide the fate of his future decisions. As events spiral out of control, Charlie starts to lose a grip on his life and those around him... Emmett Scanlan gives a remarkable performance as Charlie, every ounce of malice and hatred burning away behind those searing eyes. Technically, it's a well-made film but it ultimately fails to work because all of the characters seem to inhabit another world altogether. They're completely unlikeable, unrelateable and unsympathetic - and audience empathy is so important in most films. Director Terry McMahon seems to be quite a character and even though he denies it, there seems to be a fair bit of Charlie in him. That certainly comes across in his direction, which is angry and confrontational. Think very carefully about whether you want to see this film. Fortunately, I saw it for free but it really is hard to imagine why anyone would want to hand over their hard-earned cash to watch this film.Posted 11:14 | Sat 5th May 2012
One of the worst films I have ever seen. Pretentious beyond articulation and almost arrogantly abrasive. A horrible, horrible film.Posted 12:35 | Tue 8th May 2012
Great to see Ireland at least trying to make movies again; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtUBMSIkgPcPosted 14:38 | Wed 9th May 2012
I don't think you can call Charlie Casanova a film... it's more of an audience endurance test really. My advice is to skip it and wait for the low-key Irish charmer A Kiss For Jed, which is out next week.Posted 17:33 | Wed 9th May 2012
Charlie Casanova is not a portrayal of a sociopath but instead of a sick man in a sick society alone, but disastrously, trying to become healthy. It is a merciless judgment of the Irish bourgeoisie: materialistic, workaholic, complacent and conventional; and also of the Irish proletariat: vicious and parasitical. Nevertheless, Charlie Casanova is remiss in offering no cultural alternative to the prevailing bourgeois and proletarian lifestyles of contemporary Ireland. Charlie Casanova, himself, is a psychotic who becomes antisocial against his own sensitive nature in reaction to the prevailing bourgeois and proletarian lifestyles of contemporary Ireland which drain and deaden Irish life. If he were written as an existential character who reinvents himself through his imagination, experience and study rather than one who renews himself by substituting conventionality and reason for gambling, Charlie Casanova could have offered an alternative culture to the bourgeois and proletarian for today's Ireland. Nevertheless, Charlie Casanova is a profound, strident and unremitting critique of contemporary Ireland and must not be missed by modern Irish civilization's discontents.Posted 16:26 | Sat 12th May 2012
"Charlie Casanova is a profound, strident and unremitting critique of contemporary Ireland and must not be missed by modern Irish civilization's discontents." Couldn't have put it better myself. This is a ferocious beast of a film which confronts the audience in ways you rarely see. Powerful and masterful in every way, it's the best Irish film since Jim Sheridan's The Field.Posted 22:20 | Mon 14th May 2012
I really think the box-office will do the talking with this one. I went to see it this weekend in The Lighthouse and the reaction after was laughable. I heard someone on Joe Duffy yesterday comparing it to Citizen Kane because of the bad reviews. This is utter madness. It's an awful film and the director is coming across horribly every time he opens his mouthPosted 12:42 | Tue 15th May 2012
One of the most Pretentious pieces of terrible terrible story telling that I ever let myself sit through, well I lasted about 30 mins before my brain begged me to leave.Posted 20:13 | Tue 15th May 2012
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