Top positive review
45 people found this helpful
on 13 August 2004
As the directorial debut of Nick Love - the filmmaker who brought to life John King's excellent book, The Football Factory - Goodbye Charlie Bright will hopefully be given a retrospective second chance by the British filmgoing public, who largely ignored it on it's original cinematic release.
A humorous and touching tale of friendship and loyalty, the film bears what one imagines to become future Nick Love trademarks - short running time, quick edits, rapid pace and colourful characters, as well as a knowing and confident authenticity about the subject matter.
What marks this film out from other British films that take place on a council estate is that Love taps into the youthful mindset - the estate is not a bleak, depressing and hopeless place when you're young... it is your whole world... It is represented in the film with vibrant colours and a scorching summer setting. People picked on the fact that the 'adult' characters were mostly exagerrated, but what the film is really doing is tapping into the youthful fantasy and fascination with the 'grown ups' - they ARE larger than life to youngsters, hence we have the cowboy-wannabe Tony Immaculate, and the faux-posh geezer Paul 'Hector' Moriarty. Only Charlie's dad, in a superb cameo by David Thewlis, seems grounded, almost pathetic - a world apart from the other adults his son encounters and, as a result, his is the most minimal of impacts on his son's life and narrative.
The two lead actors are Paul Nicholls and Roland Manookian, both of whom turn in fantastic performances. Nicholls, in particular, exudes a presence and star quality that begs the question why he isn't a bigger star. Manookian has a tougher role, but somehow makes his 'loser' character oddly endearing; sadly, as evidenced by his equally impressive turn in Love's second film, his is a specific look, and it's very hard to see him playing anything other than directionless losers... but what he does, he does brilliantly.
The film moves along at such a pace that certain characters wander in and out, often seeming undeveloped. This is not a flaw in the writing so much as it is a virtue of the screenplay - the film, stylistically, is caught between slice-of-life and urban-thriller, subscribing to neither, fusing, rejecting and critiquing contemporary British cinema.
Energetic, lively, with humour and pathos that elevates it above most modern British films, Goodbye Charlie Bright is a highly entertaining film from a promising director, with far more depth than you might first believe.