Sunday, January 23, 2011

DVD--The Education of Charlie Banks

or: How a boy came of age.

One word to sum it up: Long.

Once upon a time, the Oscar nominee (well, I'm assuming he'll get the nomination) Jesse Eisenberg used to act in little known films which tried to prove his dramatic talents. Of course, none of them seemed to compare to his role in that film. Not even The Education of Charlie Banks, a coming of age flick of sorts. And its not Jesse who shines in this movie. What?!

Charlie Banks (Jesse Eisenberg) and his best friend, Danny (Chris Marquette), grew up in a rough section of New York, where they both knew Mick (Jason Ritter), a kid whose was much admired for his cool and equally feared for his talent for violence. When Mick got into a fight that left two teens nearly dead, Charlie was a witness, and when he was approached by the police, Charlie told them what he saw, though he later refused to testify against Mick in court for fear of his own safety. Several years later, Charlie and Danny have left the old neighbourhood behind and are students at a prestigious private university when Mick pays them an unexpected visit. Charlie has no idea if Mick knows that he informed on him to the police, and is afraid to find out, but in the meantime, Mick aggressively reintroduces himself into Charlie and Danny's lives. As Mick starts dressing like a wealthy college boy and dating a girl Charlie has a crush on, he seems to be transforming himself into someone who can be all Charlie is and more, but in time Mick learns he can't completely turn his back on his past.

As much as I hate using this term for a movie, I found The Education of Charlie Banks to be quite boring. I don't know why this was. I usually love coming-of-age flicks. This one was just...well, it just didn't really go anywhere. All I found out was that Mick was a dick, and he was bound to come undone one day, so the final act wasn't so much of a surprise. There wasn't much of a narrative which is always a problem with me. Instead, there was a very sub standard story, with a few perks which kept me watching. It's largely uneven, so I couldn't tell exactly what I was supposed to think of the people.

Jesse Eisenberg has developed that geeky awkwardness character which defines him, and it's certainly evident in his performance here. While its a good showing, it's hard to take the guy seriously sometimes, which has no doubt to do with the uneveness of the film. The best performance within the film, however, is from Jason Ritter as Mick. His performance was utterly fearless, which made me more and more interesed in this Mick character. The material may not have matched up with the characterization work Ritter did. There are quite a few people who admire this movie, but I couldn't really get into it. The end really shocked me, as it wasn't a particularly nice way to end a movie.

THE VERDICT: Stretched out to it's limit, The Education of Charlie Banks never really reaches anywhere, thanks to the uneven script. Performances are good, though.


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