There were more than a few surprises in my chat with Eric Byler about his groundbreaking film, CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES. The talk quickly turned from film’s story to the story of the sexual politics within the film and within the Asian-American filmmaking community which has reacted to CHARLOTTE in surprising ways. You may never look at the IMDB rating system in quite the same way again.
When I spoke to Byler on April 18, 2003, CHARLOTTE was poised to open in a stepped release starting in Chicago and working its way around the country. My first question, though, was what it was like at the end of the process to have been a film’s director co-writer, and co-producer.
NB: During the interview I refer to the superb film THE DREAM CATCHER without crediting Edward A. Radtke, its director and co-writer. My apologies to Radtke.
A woman rises naked from the bed of her lover, dresses, walks outside and up the stairs of her duplex to spend the rest of the night, platonically, with another man. With that opening sequence of CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES, Eric Byler engages his audience from the first frame of film in a way that is irresistible. The wonder, though, isn’t that he is capable of drawing us in from the get-go, but that he follows through with a film that is both emotionally intimate and explosive beneath its deceptively serene surface. This is a world where what it unsaid is more potent that what is, and where what is said confuses rather than reveals.
The writer Iris Murdoch once said that everything spoken is a lie, even something as mundane as Pass me the salt. Eric Byler, with CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES, has made that sentiment manifest with impeccable artistry.