A writer-director under the influence of Cassavetes, Salvatore Interlandi's absorbing first feature tracks the eponymous antihero's path to self-discovery through a vignetted series of pathetic, invasive, self-destructive behaviors. In an angry, uneasy performance, filmmaker and regular Hal Hartley player D.J. Mendel owns the film as Charlie, an inadvertent menace to himself and anyone within arm's reach. An early scene has him confronting his wife, convinced she's been cheating, his demeanor running from first gear to fourth and back without warning: "Take off your robe," he demands, tenderly kissing her one moment and choking her with the threat of rape in the next. Interlandi's style is fluid and unobtrusive. He's almost cautious around Charlie, whose impulsive, progressively more erratic lashings-out (all fallout from the perceived affair) victimize close friends, trusting strangers, and exes who still care. The discomfort of each scene comes not from Charlie's bad-boy irrationality but from his vulnerability; he's strangely sympathetic. As a story, Charlie is slight, but as an experimental character study, it's a rich and moving tangle of emotional schizophrenia.
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