La Vie Magnifique de Charlie, le Film Très Magnifique

Review of ​La Vie Magnifique de Charlie at Langston Hughes African American Film Festival. Written by TeenTix Press Corps Member Jessie B.


La Vie Magnifique de Charlie premiered in Seattle at the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival on April 20. A short film by Sewra G. Kidane, titled Proclamation Punctuation, showed before the feature film.

Official Gifs for Gee Spot Cine fashion film 'Proclamation Punctuation' ... an homage to the exclamation point!!

Official Gifs for Gee Spot Cine fashion film Proclamation Punctuation ... an homage to the exclamation point!!

Proclamation Punctuation features a woman of color, gushing over her love of exclamation points, whilst wearing numerous different dresses, with extravagant makeup and hair to complement. I found the costumes in this film to be unique and eccentric. Each costume had a distinct color scheme, including one I noted as “Tide Pod dress.” These wild costumes were exclamation points themselves, as they were “on the upbeat,” and stood out, unlike a period, which is “just a dull dot.” The actress in this film, Ayo Jackson, was astonishing. She made simple words about punctuation interesting, and created a character out of them. She had an inner confidence that created a queen-like persona. The character seemed to be confident in her own skin and in her distinctive costumes, never hesitating or slowing down.

“The Charlie Movie” is about a spontaneous young woman, coping in odd ways with her sister’s death. From this premise, I expected a depressing story about loss, and figuring out how to move on. While the story is about these things, it’s also a lighthearted story of loss, life, and love, that takes place over the course of one crazy day. I was thrilled to be able to laugh, along with the rest of the audience, at several moments. The narration by a woman with a French accent, creates an aesthetic similar to the 2001 film, Amélie.

La Vie Magnifique de Charlie, On-Set Photography by Melissa Simpson

Photo from La Vie Magnifique de Charlie, On-Set Photography by Melissa Simpson

I was glad that the magnificent filmmakers, Bobby Huntley and Nikki Wade, were present for a Q&A after the show. At the Q&A, I learned that none of the cast and crew received payment for their work in this production. This stood out to me because it shows how passionate the cast must have felt about it to work for nothing. The strong female cast was also a great move towards more equality in the film industry. The three main characters: Charlie (Kortnee Price), Kayla (Lailaa Brookings), and Keturah (Nikki Lashae) brought forth the spontaneity, quirkiness, sassiness, and sexuality of young black women, in a raw, non-stereotypical way. “The Charlie Movie” was Price’s first film, and she was perfectly cast for this role. Price seems to have a free-spirited personality, which she easily brings to the screen in Charlie, making her appear more real. Price is a talented and passionate actress, and I look forward to seeing her again in the future.

Photo from La Vie Magnifique de Charlie, On-Set Photography by Melissa Simpson

I must also applaud cinematographer Lakisha Hughes, for her creative, thoughtful use of lighting to depict different moods and characters. Each character had a different lighting scheme, creating a specific mood. Charlie’s mom, Sole’s, was very dull and neutral, but in flashback, the lighting was colorful and bright, representing life before her illness, when she was more free. Charlie’s sister, Brandy, had an almost golden light in scenes, representing her angelic personality. I was amazed when all the lighting schemes came together near the end of the film, representing Charlie’s past. I appreciated the small details in the film that changed the whole dynamic of the piece.

La Vie Magnifique de Charlie was un film magnifique, portraying the tight relationships between a group of black women, and the raw, wonderful quirks, that make them each unique. I hope more people get to see this movie, because the filmmakers found a light and funny way to deal with a heavy topic.

For more information about La Vie Magnifique de Charlie and to watch the trailer, see the film's website.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

This review was written as part of the Adventures in Contemporary American Culture workshop which was produced in partnership with On the Boards. It was edited by film critic Kathy Fennessy, and TeenTix Press Corps Manager Mariko Nagashima.

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