By Julia Beach
Press Notes: Three decades ago Rob Reiner catapulted to the forefront of American filmmakers with two back-to-back films about youth and, with his latest he focuses once again on the trials and tribulations of the American teenager. Based on a screenplay co-written by his son, Nick Reiner, and Matt Elisofon. Nick and Matt one another in rehab.
Director: Rob Reiner
Writer: Nick Reiner and Matt Elisofon
Producers: Rob Reiner, Johnson Chan, Stephanie Rennie, Simon Goldberg
Cast: Nick Robinson, Morgan Saylor, Devon BosIck, Susan Misner,
Ricardo Chavira, Common, and Cary Elwes
Rob Reiner’s newest, BEING CHARLIE, is your classic coming of age story; if, that is, the average backdrop for a coming of age tale is a rehab center, and the main character is the drug addicted son of a famous actor turned politician.
BEING CHARLIE features 18-year-old Charlie Mills (Nick Robinson) as he struggles to kick his drug addiction and get his life back on track while his father (Cary Elwes) runs for Governor of California. Forced back into rehab by his well meaning but misguided parents, the privileged but angsty Charlie meets fellow addict Eva (Meghan Saylor) and the two quickly develop a romance.
Despite their vow to stay clean, flighty Eva cannot resist temptation, causing Charlie to leave rehab and relapse. As Charlie fights his way back to sobriety, he must deal with the consequences of his addiction, ultimately finding redemption and reestablishing his relationship with his father.
Charlie and best friend Adam (Devin Bostick) provide a dry, clever humor that balances the otherwise somber tone of the film. Robinson gives a stellar performance as Charlie, managing to be comedic as well as portraying emotion depth to dramatic scenes. Bostick similarly wows, stealing scene with energy and charisma. Their onscreen dynamic is undeniably fun to watch, and their shared scenes number among the film’s best.
Cary Elwes, who has appeared in more than 107 movie and TV productions as star, co-star and supporting actor, gives a convincingly cold and removed performance as Charlie’s father. Despite stellar performances, the films biggest flaw is a lack consistency. Midway through the movie, Eva disappears without any real explanation; though the actress Saylor does her best in her portrayal, Eva seems one-dimensional, never fully fleshed out or given a backstory.
The relationship between Charlie and his parents is confusing on a number of levels, such as in the way they seem so desperate to keep him safe, while at the same time allowing him to leave home and roam the streets looking to score (and letting him disappear on election night), unsure if they’ll see him again.
Charlie’s journey from 18-year-old rich-kid-punk-to-sober-adult is replete with the harsh realities of life, from heartbreak and rejection, to the loss of a loved one and everything in between. An enjoyable Reiner piece well worth the watch.
Opened May 6, Regal Cinemas, Union Square, 14850 Broadway, New York City.
Julia Beach can be reached at Jb1019@myhunter.cuny.edu