SFIFF: Seducing Charlie Barker

B+ Seducing Charlie Barker

Seducing Charlie Barker starts as a comedy and grows serious, a trick few films manage this well. It helps that, even in the early scenes, it’s a pretty serious comedy.

Charlie Barker (Stephen Barker Turner) is not a happy man. Wild sex with a young, gorgeous, horny, yet stupid sociopath will only make things worse.

An unemployed actor with talent but little business sense, Charlie is financially dependent on his wife Stella (Daphne Zuniga), who hates her high-pay, high-pressure behind-the-scenes job on a TV talk show. The two are planning to adopt a Chinese orphan, and Stella is trying to get Charlie to kiss the required asses for reviving his career. I have no idea if this film is at all autobiographical, but if it is, I suspect that Stella is a stand-in for writer Theresa Rebeck.

Then Charlie meets Clea (newcomer Heather Gordon, in a performance that would seducingcharlie make her a star if the movie gets decent exposure). Soon, they’re banging away like crazy.

Clea is obviously bad news from the start. Stunningly beautiful in that artificial, Hollywood way, she’s a motormouth with very serious entitlement issues. She’s the type of person who insists she doesn’t drink, then asks for a vodka, then is offended when people don’t take her not drinking seriously. 

I’m not giving anything away by telling you that Charlie pays for his adultery to the point of becoming homeless. You’re told as much at the very beginning of the movie.

Director Amy Glazer handles the actors well and keeps the film well-paced, although at times the movie feels like a stage play (Rebeck first wrote it as one, called The Scene). This is a writer’s and actors’ movie, and Glazer wisely sticks to storytelling.

I’m not sure how I feel about the ending, but that’s something I really can’t discuss with people who haven’t seen the movie.

I saw Seducing Charlie Barker on a screener DVD. It will screen for audiences at the Kabuki on Sunday, May 2, at 6:30, and at the Clay on Tuesday, May 4, at 6:45.

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