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flick pick | Charlotte Sometimes 2002
Directed + written by: Eric Byler
Story by: Eric Byler, Jeff Liu
Starring: Jacqueline Kim, Eugenia Yuan, Michael Idemoto, Matt Westmore
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: drama
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something: artsy-fartsy, quintessentialy quasi-adult
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: ½/5 

Plot synopsis Quiet Michael lives alone in one half of the Los Angeles duplex inherited from his family. His downstairs tenant and neighbor is Lori, a perky, pretty aspiring actress. A few years ago Michael met Lori at his favorite neighborhood bar; he's been silently pining away for her ever since. Each night, Michael comes home after a long day working at the garage, settles down on his couch with a book, and tries to avoid hearing Lori and her boyfriend Justin have sex. The walls are thin, and Michael can't quite help listening in anyway. Besides, he knows that post-coitus, he can expect the usual soft knock on his door, and there she'll be, wanting to snuggle up next to him as they watch a movie, while her boyfriend sleeps soundly downstairs. It's a pathetic pattern, and Michael knows it. So when he spies sexy, enigmatic Darcy at the bar one night, he's eager to break free of the same old, same old, and start getting a life. Writer Darcy is a free spirit and a total mystery: she won't tell him much about who she is or where she's from, though she does warn him from the beginning that she's not good girlfriend material. Nevertheless, Michael and Darcy soon find themselves in a relationship of sorts. When Lori and Justin meet Darcy, things get especially strange and complicated in the duplex.

Review Charlotte Sometimes is a love-it or hate-it kind of film. A brief look at its dismal 3.6 rating in the trusty old IMDB might put you off renting this flick -- and if you're the sort of person who's idea of a really great movie requires loud explosions and hammy one-liners, listen to your instincts, and stay far, far away. This is a movie for people who love characters and feelings and ambience, more so than plot. Eric Byler's movie is weird and ambiguous, full of shadows and uncomfortable silences. The story, in as much as there is one, is told from stoic Michael's point-of-view, and since Michael doesn't have a great talent for connecting with others, most of the other characters' motivations remain a mystery the whole way through. Nonetheless, there's something real about them -- even if you can't understand why Lori keeps one guy for sex and the other for friendship, you feel like you've known someone like her, maybe even acted like that yourself. It's a sad fact that it's next to impossible to talk about Charlotte Sometimes without mentioning it's all-Asian cast, but though the movie brings up some interesting questions about the difference between popular sexual stereotypes for Asian women versus Asian men, the characters' ethnicities are, for the most part, not the main focus of the film. Ultimately, this is a love quadrangle between four individuals who happen to be Asian-American - and not an Asian-American story looking to make a grand statement about race. If you're looking for a quietly lovely movie featuring fascinating individuals and a great sense of mood, ignore the IMDB ratings, and give Charlotte Sometimes a chance.
—reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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