Goodbye Charlie Bright

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Movie Review by EDF

Starring: Paul Nicholls, Danny Dyer, Dani Behr, Roland Manookian
Director: Nick Love

Here comes another one of those coming-of-age movies, set against the backdrop of a south London council estate during a summer heat wave. Before you start thinking that this is going to be another one of those bleak Ken Loach affairs, there is a sense of fun here while keeping it’s feet firmly on the ground without being too over the top.

At the start of the movie, Charlie (Paul Nicholls) and two of his friends run through their council estate, naked, to catch another gang off guard, just to rob their football. Charlie’s best mate is Justin (Roland Manookian), dubbed by the others as “the wife” because they are always seen together. Damien (Alexis Rodney) seems to setting himself up for a life of petty crime, while Frannie (Danny Dyer) is madly in love with his girlfriend, Julie and is slowly distancing himself from the others. Tommy is about to do his old man proud by joining the army. There is a blonde woman, ‘Blondie’ (Dani Behr), who also lives on the estate and Charlie catches her eye every time they meet. All he has to do is to pluck up courage to ask her out. None of these lads are free from evil though, as every now and then they prowl around to engage themselves in a spot of purse snatching.

At Tommy’s leaving party, Charlie spots Frannie’s girlfriend, Julie, dancing provocatively with another guy. Also spotted attending the party is Eddie (Phil Daniels), a Falklands veteran and local hard nut. When Frannie tells the others that he’s going to be a father, Justin just goads him. Frannie later on questions Charlie about why he bothers hanging around with Justin.

Charlie and Justin visit Tony Immaculate (Jamie Foreman) to borrow a car from his car lot for a burglary. Tony informs them that Charlie’s cousin, Hector (Richard Driscoll), is holding a gangster fancy dress party the following Saturday. During the burglary, Charlie finds a gun and for the first time ever, does not tell Justin about it. Soon after, Charlie approaches Blondie to ask her out to the pictures but she refuses. Regardless of this, she does tell him to drop by anytime.

At Hector’s party, Hector offers Charlie a chance to join him in the property business, a way to get away from both the council estate and his useless friend Justin. Predictably, Justin lands himself into trouble and is thrown out of the party. Charlie leaves the party as well, which leaves Hector furious. The tide is turning for the gang and each member is now viewing the other in a different light. How long will their friendships last and who is going to tell Frannie that they spotted Julie kissing Eddie in his car?

It is interesting that writer and director Nick Love has done his best to make the council estate as cherry as possible by painting garage doors and having the cast wear bright colours. Love has grown up on a council estate and his recollection of his younger days is not a bleak one. He has done his best with the script by keeping the language as close to the South London dialect as possible. While there are aspects of the script that seem pretty grim, there is, in some cases, a glimmer of hope. Not going for a Hollywood happy ending for each character and let’s face it, not everyone has a happy ending at the same time, there is a sense of progression for each character. The actor’s themselves are well balanced and while there are a couple of old familiar faces, the main cast are given loads of room to shine. Even Dani Behr does a decent job of her role.

4 out of 6 stars