Here at Short of the Week we know that your internet time can be precious – so much to do, so much to see – so when we serve up a 24-minute film, you’ll know it’s something we think very highly of. Character-driven, performance-based and overflowing with compelling family-drama, Lewis Arnold’s Charlie Says builds on the subtle, powerful storytelling witnessed in previous short Echo and the burgeoning British filmmaker once again proves why a narrative-first approach can be such a rewarding and entertaining experience.
Based on an incident director Arnold had on a childhood holiday and centred around themes of deceit and masculinity, Charlie Says follows a family as their peaceful vacation is threatened by their youngest member’s desperate attempts to get attention. Largely ignored by the older sections of his group, youngster Charlie resorts to fabricating a story about a strange man in the woods in order to redirect everyone’s focus back towards him. With retribution on their minds, things quickly spiral out of control as the men-folk set-out to hunt down this elusive outsider and male-pride takes over.
With a narrative grounded in reality and particularly apt in this day and age, Charlie Says’ most attractive feature has to be just how real and relatable it feels. While Arnold admits that his story (actually penned by Frances Poletti) is an exaggeration of the actual events that took place on his own holiday, we’ve all probably told lies like Charlie’s, that we wish we hadn’t and in some sense we can all probably identity with his plight. In fact Arnold has a talent for this as a director, whatever the situation his characters find themselves in and whether their actions be naive, duplicitous or even a little unhinged, he makes you empathise and he makes you care and really isn’t this what we’re all looking for in storytelling? A little emotional investment!
You can find out more about director Lewis Arnold and how he approached making Charlie Says in our interview with the director, in which we discuss basing a film on his own childhood experience, shooting on 35mm and releasing a 24-minute short online.