Goodbye Charlie Bright Review

The story

It's another long hot South London summer but this year things are different for Charlie (Paul Nicholls) and his mates: Tommy (Sid Mitchell) is off to join the army whilst Francis (Danny Dyer) is spending more time with his girlfriend that with them. Justin (Roland Manookian) has been Charlie's best mate for years but seems to have no outlook beyond the estate. Charlie though wants to get out of the estate but he knows that Justin won't be able to cope without him. He wants to stay loyal to his best friend but also wants to keep his ambitions. The film follows their various escapades during that summer and the way their friendship and loyalties are put to the test.

Nick Love's debut is a bit of a mixed bag: his clear influences at time seem to submerge his storytelling - there are too many elements that are just too similar to La Haine and Trainspotting for the film to feel original enough to stand up on its own two feet. That said most of the characters are really well written and the actors manage to convey the character's personality and history well. The cast he assembled functions well and some of the minor roles feature some classic actors in them (David Thewlis, Jamie Foreman and Phil Daniels). I also liked his choice of a very large aspect ratio as it really suited his style of filming and he made judicious use of it. There are also some really nice touchs in the story (like when he looks at the difficulty some men have to confide in another) which shows that Nick Love has great potential and although I'm not so sure that this debut works completely, I suspect that his next films will be able to overcome some of the shortcomings of this one.

The DVD:
The image:
The image is anamorphic in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The image does get quite soft at times and I found it lacking in sharpness throughout. The print used for the transfer seems to have been blemish free and I didn't detect any scratches or dirt on it. The encoding seems to have been pretty thorough with some artifcating appearing in some of the backgrounds.

The sound

We get a choice between 5.1 and 2.0 - both are acceptable but the mixing is a little strange: the scenes with music sound great but the scenes without seem to be at a lower volume forcing me to have to turn the volume up. The 5.1 does keep most of the dialogue in the centre without much pyrotechnics being done with the surround system. The soundtrack including the likes of Robbie Williams, Leftfield and Oasis comes out quite punchy and really underlines some key moments in the film. Bizarrely the soundtrack on the DVD I got defaulted to the director's commentary. Also no subtitles whatsoever were featured.

The menus:
The DVD starts with a pretty swish opening sequence with the title being graffitied onto a wall. The background of the menus are animated with excerpts from the film - relatively standard but quite aesthetically pleasing.

The extras

The traditional filmographies are included as well as lengthy production notes. The filmographies have in their midst interviews with the main cast (seven actors in all) plus interviews with the production designer and costume designer. An interesting extra although the young actors seem a bit overenthusiastic about Nick Love - not as shameless as some making-ofs I've seen though!
There's what's called B/Roll which is just 8 minutes of behind the scenes footage filmed in full frame with no commentary whatsover - I found it to be of minimal interest.
Nick Love also recorded a commentary for the film - he mostly talks about the film (cuts and editing), the characters and the actors. There's some pretty long silences at times which could have been avoided had he had someone else to bounce ideas off but some interesting stories come out too (like one of the local actors he cast getting 12 years in prison for torture just after filming).
A storyboard section is another nice extra. It shows 4 scenes with the sotryboard and script at the same time. Maybe not essential but it's nice to see they went to the effort. To round it all off we have the trailer in an anamorphic 1.85:1 ratio transfer

It's great to see relatively low budget UK films gettting such a good quality release: although the sound and image could have been better, a great deal of effort was put into giving us some decent extras: Metrodome should be lauded for having secured a very clean master and putting together a comprehensive release of a small film - this is a good effort; I'm looking forward to their next releases.

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