When I first met Charlie,
I just knew.
Hopped on a bus and I never looked back.
Charles Manson seems to be a hot topic this year. Not only there’s the Tarantino movie “Once upon a time … in Hollywood” in which the Manson Family plays a prominent role, but also this “Charlie Says” focuses on this cult leader from the 60s. It’s rather a docu-drama in which the person Manson himself isn’t really the central topic. Rather, it’s the female members of the Manson family who receive the most attention. A mixed bag of vulnerable, somewhat naive young girls who probably don’t realize that Manson’s sermons are pure nonsense due to the abundance of soft drugs and the eating of not so kosher mushrooms. Delusions presented by a confused mind. A despotic person and a bundle of contradictions.
The actresses Hannah “Game of Thrones” Murray, Sosie Bacon and Marianne Rendon, who played the characters Leslie van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel and Susan Atkins respectively, acted generally convincingly. The way these young ladies accept their fate while sitting in adjacent cells waiting for their death penalty is not only frightening but also shows how brainwashed they are by the Machiavellian Manson. Their empathetic attitude towards the horrific facts shows how convinced they are that nothing criminal has been committed by them. In their eyes, it was a necessary thing to do. But mainly because “Charlie said it“. Hence the title of this film.
The biggest disappointment is Charles Manson himself, played by Matt Smith. The character lacked charisma. Apart from his sometimes eccentric reasonings and tantrums, I didn’t get the idea of dealing with a psychopathic, manic person here. Rather he’s a strange hippie with a fake beard who prefers to strum a guitar and who enjoys how the young girls gawk at him full of adoration. Furthermore, I am not a fan of flashbacks. And let that now be the basis of this film. So expect a huge amount of back and forth jumping in time. However, if you aren’t familiar with this Manson phenomenon and what this insane cult leader is guilty of, “Charlie Says” is an excellent starting point to discover it. Perhaps the film scores high in originality by showing the whole from the point of view of the female cult members. But still, I recommend watching the films “Helter Skelter” from 1976 and “The Manson family” from 2003.
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