Goodbye Charlie Bright
, Nick Love's 2001 rites of passage drama about a teenage group of petty criminals in a steaming South London summer, was never going to be a massive box-office hit. But it might prove to be a rather significant piece in the long run. If Paul Nicholls' star continues to rise as anticipated, it may well come to be seen as the film which first revealed his genuine potential as a big screen actor. The former Eastenders
heartthrob turns in a fine, sensitive performance as Charlie, gradually realising that he has to find a way to escape the constraints of the life that is shaping up in front of him.
However, this isn't solely a Nicholls vehicle. Roland Manookian is outstanding as Justin, the dangerous, troubled companion for whom Charlie is the only source of stability. There's another good cameo from the ever-reliable Phil Daniels as an unbalanced Falklands veteran who becomes the catalyst for the rupture in their relationship and Charlie's escape. Other familiar faces cropping up include two more Eastenders veterans Nicola Stapleton and Edna Doré, and television presenter Dani Behr who is particularly good as the nurse Charlie befriends. The story is slight, but between them, partly thanks to Love's tight direction and script, the actors in Goodbye Charlie Bright generate a rather haunting little tragicomedy with moments of real pathos which deserves a long shelf life. --Piers Ford
United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), ANAMORPHIC WIDESCREEN (2.35:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Anamorphic Widescreen, Cast/Crew Interview(s), Commentary, Filmographies, Interactive Menu, Production Notes, Scene Access, Storyboards, Trailer(s), SYNOPSIS: Two lifelong friends discover that growing up sometimes means growing apart in this gritty British drama. Charlie (Paul Nicholls) and Justin (Roland Manookian) are a pair of best friends who grew up together in a rough-and-tumble London neighborhood, close enough that some of Charlie's pals jokingly refer to Justin as "the wife." Charlie and Justin are the de facto leaders of a group of toughs, including Damien (Alexis Rodney), Francis (Danny Dyer), and Tommy (Sid Mitchell), who make a living through petty theft. As the boys grow into their late teens, it becomes obvious that they are not going to be following the same paths in life. Tommy decides to join the Army and Francis loses interest in the gang after he gets serious with his girlfriend. Charlie has been going through changes of his own, especially after the death of his father (David Thewlis), and while Justin has no real ambitions beyond a life as a small-time criminal, Charlie is smart (and practical) enough to begin thinking of a different future. Charlie is offered a good-paying straight job by his cousin Hector (Richard Driscoll), and he begins pursuing a relationship with Blondie (Dani Behr), a young woman a few rungs higher on the social ladder. But as Charlie moves forward, Justin seems stuck in neutral, and as they begin to drift apart, Justin finds himself increasingly disenchanted with his best friend's new life. The supporting cast also includes Phil Daniels and Jamie Foreman. ...Goodbye Charlie Bright