Charlotte Sometimes

Charlotte Sometimes

2003, NR, 85 min. Directed by Eric Byler. Starring Jacqueline Kim, Michael Idemoto, Eugenia Yuan, Matt Westmore, Shizuko Hoshi.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Sept. 19, 2003

As an antidote to talky American indies involving twentysomething romantic conundrums, Charlotte Sometimes hits just the right note. More a mood piece than a standard relationship drama, Charlotte Sometimes courts a vague and opaque tone which, although part of the movie’s unique charm, also works against the story by creating insistently obtuse mysteries that deliver little, if any, narrative satisfaction. This is a movie about the telling silences between people, silences that are replicated in real time and leave as much room for interpretation as the real thing. This movie’s willful opacity will strike some viewers, myself included, as a disagreeable manipulation, but unresolved mysteries aside, Charlotte Sometimes has a lot to recommend it. In fact, even the silent opacity is a welcome contrast to the voluble self-absorption that so often passes for a relationship study in modern American film. Idemoto plays bookish car mechanic Michael, who spends a lot of his downtime at home reading and moodily staring into space. He leases the other half of the Los Angeles duplex he owns and resides in to Lori (Yuan), who can be heard through the walls having boisterous sex with her partner Justin (Westmore). After the sex, she often comes over to Michael’s side of the building to cuddle the night away and fall asleep on the couch entwined in Michael’s arms while watching videos. Both Justin and Michael seem a bit out of sorts in the morning. There’s also something symbolic going on with the building’s malfunctioning garage door, but that’s another access code I’m not privy to. Into Michael’s life comes the mysterious Darcy (Kim), whose intentions and background remain cloaked, although her physique and countenance stand in contrast to those of the petite and bubbly Lori. The four characters are all Asian-Americans, which provides another layer of meaning for Charlotte Sometimes as the film intrinsically shows us, although without ever overtly commenting on it, some of the unique inter- and intra-cultural ramifications of the Asian-American dating scene. Rob Humphreys’ camerawork is stunning to look at, full of intense colors and shadows and stylized framing. Writer-director Byler, in his first feature film, also proves to be a noteworthy new voice, even if his cinematic sense outweighs his narrative sense in this initial outing.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Eric Byler Films
9500 Liberty
This timely documentary is a witness to the events in Prince William County, Va., whose board of supervisors voted in 2007 to require police officers to question anyone suspected of being an undocumented immigrant.

Marjorie Baumgarten, June 4, 2010

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
Pokémon Detective Pikachu
Pika pika pika? Pika pika pika pika pika pika pika.

May 10, 2019

Sunset
Period drama keeps the techniques of Oscar winner Son of Saul but loses the emotional weight

April 26, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Charlotte Sometimes, Eric Byler, Jacqueline Kim, Michael Idemoto, Eugenia Yuan, Matt Westmore, Shizuko Hoshi

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle