Love, Charlie it gives a glimpse into its subject’s personality in its first few seconds. Chef Charlie Trotter asks the interviewer to turn off the camera so he can make an unofficial statement. He then says how the restaurant business would be the best if it weren’t for the customers and employees. Just to emphasize that he is not joking, he repeats that the comment is unofficial.
The documentary traces Trotter’s early life through his decision to become a chef and his early death. An important part of Love, Charlie it is the relationship between the eventual celebrity chef and his father. This is extremely well developed. What is initially just background information about the elder Trotter leads to his son’s motivations. Themes of control and learning from the past come up often.
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Love, Charlie it also does a great job of painting a picture of who Trotter really was. The first part focuses on the younger man who called himself “Chuck”. This laid-back, fun-loving persona would soon transform into the more angrily obsessive “Charlie.” The film effectively traces this gradual progression through interviews. The audience will feel like they are watching a person change over time.
It’s hard not to feel that the documentary is a bit full of itself at times. Part of it is due to interviews with Trotter constantly comparing himself to a musician or artist. While there is some truth in what he is saying, lack of modesty can be overbearing. Respondents can be just as bad. Some people are so pretentious that sometimes it feels like you’re watching a parody instead of a serious biography.
Love, Charlie it’s a strange mix of celebrity adoration and single-minded biography. While it’s a well-put-together character study, some of the participants seem intent on keeping people at arm’s length. The end result is a complete look that is equal parts interesting and frustrating.
Love, Charlie arrives in theaters and digitally November 18
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