Charlie (Dulquer Salmaan) is a free-spirited vagabond, the quintessential do-gooder who lives to see the sparkle in others’ eyes. Tessa (Parvathy) is a free-spirited vagabond too who effortlessly flits between cities and careers in search of new experiences. The similarities go even further as they’re both graphic artists and are both incredibly passionate people! But there’s one primal difference between Charlie and Tessa that’s easy to miss – Charlie is selfless, Tessa is anything but.
But the movie doesn’t ask you to do all of those deductions. Charlie is a kind of movie that you go sit and trust the director to take you on a soul-quenching ride. And what an eyeful it is too. Starting from the incredibly gorgeous looking title card, down to the teeny tiny marvelous touches like how a pair of pliers turn into antlers for a deer sketch, this is one fabulously mounted film. And I’ve not seen many Malayalam films but Cochin has never looked better in my opinion. There is something to be said about what a movie can achieve when it’s got a tasteful cinematographer. There are probably way too many slow-mo shots but I never did complain and I couldn’t stop staring at the screen.
The movie unfolds in an unconventional way. Tessa’s relentless search for Charlie (the mysterious/intriguing previous occupant of her apartment) was handled nicely. In bits and pieces, the backstory to Charlie is revealed which I thought was a great framing device in that we always have something to look forward to. It’s not perfect by any measure though, as there were a couple of places where I felt that the movie was getting too indulgent for its own good.
As for the performances, everyone brings their A-game to the table. I’ve always been a big admirer of Parvathy and her incredibly expressive eyes, and she doesn’t disappoint. Her rustic appearance comes into play wonderfully for Tessa, the almost hippy. Dulquer is charming and completely owns the frames that he is in, though I think now is the time for him to do something different. Nedumudi Venu is always a delight and I loved how his sub-plot turns the tables around for Charlie. The actress who played Kani was also effective.
But the man of the movie for me is probably Gopi Sundar, the music director, who lends an almost ethereal background score and equally impressive songs that gel so well with the mood of the film.
Charlie might not feature in the greatest Malayalam films of 2015, but it sure has got its heart in the right place and delivers on its promise to feed you a delectable meal for your senses.