There’s simply nothing to not like about a movie featuring Dulquer Salman and Parvathy in lead manic pixie dust characters that forgo the norm and wander in search of an elevated sense of meaning. In the process, they end up finding one another – or one finding another – just as the audiences would want the film to end. Charlie, a 2015 Malayalam film, follows the life and adventures of a young man with insane creative skills and an unquenched thirst for excitement in life. While the character blueprint is not completely new, the idea that he never meets the person that falls in love with him but leaves her smaller traces of his incredible self to follow throughout the movie is a brilliant one. Quite naturally, audiences end up falling in love with both the characters that are clearly made for each other but elude each other until the very end.
Not going to lie – there were actually times through the movie when I almost wanted Tessa (the lead girl) to never find Charlie. That would be one way to end the movie, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all because Malayalam film makers are known to do things like that. A story of a girl that goes in search of an idealistic (in her context) man but never finds him; but keeps him in her mind until perhaps someday he comes in search of his admirer or, better yet, both remain intensely aware of each other’s existence but never meet. Excuse me if that sounded like some dark heartless intent, but I personally guess Charlie would have set itself apart much more than it already has in this case.
Aesthetics, symbolism, emotions, mystery, strife, traditions, magic – Charlie has it all. And it has the contagious charm of the character that lives life to the fullest committing to nothing but at the same time creating magical moments for other people. He encounters unconventional instances in life, and when he does not, he creates some like putting up an obituary for himself just to experience the responses of people he’s known. The idealistic charm of an uncommitted lifestyle combined with social acceptance and love makes every viewer undeniably love Charlie, and want his dramatic flair for a colourful life rewarded with the best ending. And that is just what the movie delivers.
While Charlie does linger on the edge of fantasy, it stays true to the signature style of its industry with a realistic and beautiful display of locations and lifestyle of Kochi. It’s a validation that Malayalam movies are well capable of artistic depiction and romanticism on the backdrop of realism as and when the script demands it.
Charlie is about happy vibes and the contagiousness of it – especially to ones that resonate with the character in the first place, such as Tessa. The rest of them take their time to gel in with Charlie but end up loving him anyways, while for Tessa, all it takes is the idea of him. I particularly liked Tessa’s character because of this. Most of the times, one of the lead characters is a manic pixie dust boy/girl and the other one leads a mundane life that could really use some sparkle – and in comes the other character to turn life upside down. Here, though, Tessa is already an insane, outgoing and carefree girl who makes her own decisions in life and pursues a designing career. Charlie is an addition to her life; an idea of even higher levels of insanity and carefree attitude, but not a primary source of fun. Adding a new level of empowerment to an already empowered character is something I can surely get on board with.
Charlie definitely is one of the most recommended movies ever. It’s easy flowing, simple on the surface but deep and meaningful beyond it, aesthetic and captivating. Undoubtedly one of the best movies Mollywood has offered.
Critical review of Malayalam cinema here – https://ficklesorts.com/2021/01/06/kumbalangi-nights-a-breakthrough-in-character-based-cinema/