Unlocking Charlie (2011) – By Philip Smolen

Charlie (Tom Maguire) suffers from severe agoraphobia. He can’t step outside his apartment even for a minute without fearing for his life. Not even pretty neighbor Molly (Grace Kelley), who has a crush on Charlie, can coax him out. Charlie likes Molly and when she announces that she’s moving out of the apartment complex the next day, he is crushed. His roommate Peter (Dayleigh Nelson) tries to help and gives Charlie some tips on how to sweep Molly off her feet before she leaves. But later that day Charlie has a severe panic attack and imagines all sorts of horrors happening around him. Will he be able to overcome his demons and talk to Molly, or will he watch helplessly as the Neanderthal Marcus (Clyde Mowlds) sweeps in and takes off with the girl he secretly loves?

“Unlocking Charlie” is a smashing short film. Written, produced and directed by Ireland’s Stephen Crilly, the film is captivating from its first frame to its final gratifying coda. There’s not a wasted second in this thrilling 13 minute celluloid blast. Crilly immediately plunges you into Charlie’s frightening world where just stepping outside his apartment is akin to walking a literal tightrope. His ability to take you into the mind of this good-hearted neurotic is quite remarkable. We see everything the way the fearful Charlie does, from the horror of leaving his home to coming to grips with the literal demons that hold him back in life.

The film is beautifully photographed by Deidre O’ Toole. Her use of shadings and color filters add emotional depth and empathy for Charlie as he struggles with his neurosis. Karel Antonin contributes a first class music score.

The cast is a joy to watch. Tom Maguire is riveting as Charlie. He looks physically disheveled and uses all sorts of movements and body tics to clue you in to what Charlie’s emotional state is. Grace Kelley is dreamy as Molly. Her performance as Charlie’s object of desire is sweet and innocent. Clyde Mowlds and Dayleigh Nelson provide excellent support in their brief scenes.

“Unlocking Charlie” is one movie to look for. It has already won several awards in its native Ireland and I can see why. This is one of the best short films I’ve seen this year. I can’t wait to see what Crilly’s next project will be.

For more information on “Unlocking Charlie”, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/unlockingcharlie and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4fuM6qfWe4

To watch "Unlocking Charlie", please go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myw78bixsEo