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Charlie (2004)

Film review: Charlie (2004), directed by Malcolm Needs

Like Cold and Dark (2005), this is a film I once got because radio personality James Whale was in it. A cameo, as it turned out when I finally got around to watching it. Funnily enough, both films star Luke Goss, which is basically what finally made me watch them!

A bio pic of London crime gang boss Charlie Richardson (Luke Goss), Charlie follows the eponymous character through the trial he’s finally brought to. His former comrades are put in the witness stand, as are former enemies, and we’re told the story of his years of crime through flashbacks. It’s not pretty – the Richardsons were rather heavy-handed, shall we say.

Growing up in post-war London, Charlie and his brother Eddy (played by Langley Kirkwood as an adult) live with their mother (Anita Dobson) and absent father (Steven Berkoff) – who later returns and teaches Charlie not to trust anyone, let alone his own dad. (How he achieves that made me feel really sorry for the poor kid.)

There are many gritty scenes, as the Richardsons were not strangers to torturing people. The film, however, makes it rather ambiguous as to exactly what was going on – how truthful the people were who said they’d been tortured, and so on. Not quite sure if the film is meant to be on Charlie’s side or not, although it does feel as if that’s the case.

The narrator of the film in general is Charlie himself, and parts are from the people who are on the stand, or just people who are interviewed in front of the camera, as if it was a documentary.

Overall, I think it works. It’s a lot better as a film than Cold and Dark, but really, there should be no comparisons between the two, because the only common denominators are that they both star Luke Goss, both have James Whale in a small role and both are British independent films. I could draw comparisons with movies like Snatch (2000), Layer Cake (2004) and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), but I haven’t actually seen any of those, so I don’t know how valid such a comparison would be. They’re all gritty films about the British criminal underworld, as far as I know, and they might have nothing else in common.

The acting is good, and the script is pretty decent.

3.6 out of 5 South African mines.


An easily distracted Swedish introvert residing in Robin Hood Country (Nottingham, UK) with a husband and two cats. She's an eager participant in tabletop and play-by-post roleplaying, woodworking, photography and European travel, when there's not a plague on.

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