When we’re first introduced to Abner, he’s trying to fling himself out of his apartment window. A lonely artist with challenges in both the height and follicle departments, Abner has recently lost his dream girl to his much more dashing if shallower younger brother (Aaron Abrams)—on his 40th birthday, no less.
Abner’s life falls apart in the wake of that humiliation, compounded by the birth of the couple’s first child a year later and a mysterious accident that’s only hinted at for the most part in writer-director Emmanuel Shirinian’s screenplay, which zag-zags back and forth across the film’s non-linear narrative.
A bubbly if obsessive taxi driver named Zoe (Emma Fleury) and a sad sack workmate of Abner’s—character vet Alon Nashman stands out in the small but effective role—both add to the film’s gently oddball vibe. While Shirin attempts to balance the pathos with the humour, which is no small thing when your lead character is making multiple suicide attempts, it’s Vancouver-native Michael D. Cohen as Abner who ultimately holds it all together, like an endearing cross between Dudley Moore and Toby Jones.
It Was You Charlie (the title refers to On the Waterfront) might be slight and uneven, but no more so than a film like John Turturro’s widely released Fading Gigolo. One suspects that if it was American, or Woody Allen was in it, this affecting Toronto-made oddity would be getting a bit more attention than a two night stand at New Westminster’s Landmark Cinemas on Wednesday and Thursday (October 29-30). As such, it’s worth leaping through that small window of opportunity to catch it.
Michael D. Cohen will attend a Q&A for both Wednesday and Thursday's 7 P.M. screenings