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It Was You Charlie: Uncomfortable shifts between dark and comic

Anna Hopkins, left, with Michael D. Cohen, who plays Abner, a depressed, down-on-his-luck doorman, in the Canadian feature It Was You Charlie.

1.5 out of 4 stars

It Was You Charlie
Written by
Emmanuel Shirinian
Directed by
Emmanuel Shirinian
Michael D. Cohen, Aaron Abrams, Anna Hopkins

It's a misfortune of timing, but watching a movie play a character's multiple suicide attempts for zany effect feels a little gross the same week Robin Williams took his own life.

The bungling depressive here is Abner (Michael D. Cohen), a squat doorman suffering from survivor's guilt after making it out of a fatal car accident. Now he doesn't trust cars, preferring to waddle through dusky, golden hour Toronto to and from work and appointments at a local diner. His bummer life is further flattened when his brother (Aaron Abrams) scores with Abner's long-time crush (Anna Hopkins). But redemption arrives in the form of a weirdo cabby (Emma Fleury) who might as well be employed by Manic Pixie Taxi Co.

There are some nice performances here, but the shifts between dark and comic never quite jive, and first-timer Emmanuel Shirinian's stately direction has the soulless quality of a technically precise guitar solo: proficient, but absolutely stinking of effort.

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