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Charlie Zone!

Charlie Zone – An Atlantic Feature Film
Atlantic Film Festival
September 20, 2011

As I entered Park Lane Theatre 3, sleep-deprived, I attempted to find an isolated seat just in case I started snoozing and produced off-putting snores. No such luck. The festival’s second screening of Charlie Zone was once again completely sold out. It turns out it didn’t matter. No matter how tired I was, there was no way I wanted to miss a single moment of Cape Bretoner Mike Melski’s film.

Upon introducing his second feature, Melski described the piece as “a dark vision of Halifax, but also about humanity and hope”. The story exposes elements in HRM that us naïve, “socially acceptable” locals only imagine exist in Baltimore, Bogota, Detroit or Bangkok. Viewers are exposed to the underground fighting culture, a 24/7 crack house, biker gangs and the unforgiveable exploitation imposed by some of the most rich and powerful.

Charlie Zone combines gripping action with emotional bonds as the story details Avery’s (Glen Gould) contract to return a trapped and addicted Jan (Amanda Crew) back to her family. Both Gould and Crew deliver resounding performances suggesting that they have whole-heartedly put themselves in the characters’ shoes.

Melski has respected the intelligence of his audience through refraining from delivering the plot’s details all at once. In that sense the film is suspense-ridden in two ways: within individual flight or fight scenes and also by the delaying the truth until near the end. From night shots of the Halifax waterfront to picture perfect days at Millbrook First Nation, the story of a deep friendship forming between a Mi’kmaq man with a criminal record and a junkie white girl is told amongst visual splendour.

Expect to see Charlie Zone hit theatres next year. ~ Michelle Brunet

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