Eban and Charley (2000)
"It's hard enough to go up to someone...because you're frightened, because you're different."- Eban (Brent Fellows)
Stars: Brent Fellows, Giavonni Andrade
Other Stars: Ellie Nicholson, Drew Zeller, Pam Munter, Ron Upton
Director: James Bolton
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (sexual situations, honesty)
Run Time: 01h:28m:30s
Release Date: 2002-07-09
DVD ReviewEban is 29. He's on Christmas break from his job teaching soccer to deaf high school kids in Seattle, staying with his parents in Seaside, Oregon. He may be an adult, but we know he's still cool, because it's in a record shop that he first catches a glimpse of 14-year-old Charley. After Eban bumps into Charley in a café and overly praises his amateurish artwork, we also know that he's interested in Charley, but is it just because he's lonely ("I don't have many friends here"), or is something else at work?
Something else is indeed at work, but the two share an interest in guitar, as well as knowing sign language, so it's not long before they strike a mutual friendship. Eban isn't the only lonely one—Charley recently moved to Seaside to live with his father, after his deaf mother was killed in a car accident. It's their mutual loneliness and need for companionship that lead to friendly bike rides, afternoons wandering around on the beach, and a growing intimacy. And it will come as no surprise that the chilly, damp winter weather, leading them both to disrobe in Charley's room, results in an encounter...but it's an encounter predicated on Charley's desire for Eban, and not the other way around.
The sweetness and tenderness of their relationship won't last any longer than one would expect, as the truth about Eban's exile from Seattle comes back to haunt him, and Charley's father finally realizes what's going on, with the expected results. Eban takes measures to protect himself from the potentially disastrous consequences of his affection, while the poor befuddled Charley, awash in the emotions of adolescent love, struggles to understand why Eban grows ever more distant, then suddenly cold.
Director James Bolton's freshman feature effort takes its cue from its setting, a holiday town during the off season. One presumes that Seaside would be a bustling, happy place full of tourists during the summer, but the winter break Seaside depicted in the film is desolate, almost barren of human presence. The perpetually cloudy skies reduce the beach and the buildings to shades of grey, and it's this depressing setting that most informs the film. There's an overarching feeling of melancholy, a sense of regret that Eban and Charley's love is doomed to failure.
Despite the above, don't assume that this movie is an excercise in gloominess. Bolton's script does favor long, nearly wordless sequences between the two protagonists, but it's refreshing, and probably more realistic than in most films, to see a nearly inarticulate teen boy as he struggles to deal with his feelings. This is an intelligent film, with humor, drama (not Bolton's strong suite, as several clumsily filmed melodramatic sequences prove), and sweetness. And there might just be a happy ending after all.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Eban and Charley was filmed on video, and it certainly shows. While the image is mostly clear, there are some low-lit sequences that are murky, with extremely poor black levels. More annoying, several sequences were filmed in sunlight with no compensation, and they are washed out and nearly colorless. But these are faults of the original filming, and not the transfer.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: Keeping in mind that this is a low-budget movie, the audio is for the most part clear, and Stephin Merritt's guitar-based score comes through well. There are some scenes where the miking was poor, and one has to strain to hear the dialogue, as well as occasional scenes that betray an annoying digital harshness in the upper ranges. Only the latter could be fault of the DVD transfer.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Come Undone, The Toilers and the Wayfarers, From the Edge of the City, Sacred Silence, Lola and Billy the Kid, Don't Tell Anyone
Packaging: Keep Case
Extras Review: The DVD includes six promos for other Picture This/Wolfe videos, a mixture of theatrical trailers and DVD promos.
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsJames Bolton's first feature is a realistic look at an intergenerational gay relationship, which mixes hope and realism in equal parts. There's nothing graphic here, just an honest depiction of a relationship. The DVD accurately translates the low budget video and audio.
Robert Edwards 2005-04-22