Charlie Says

Rated 2.0

Mary Harron, director of American Psycho, helms this movie about real life psycho Charles Manson (Matt Smith) and three major female members of his “family,” those being Leslie Van Houten (Hannah Murray), Susan Atkins (Marianne Redding) and Patricia Krenwinkel (Sosie Bacon). Harron and longtime screenwriting partner Guinevere Turner try to make an insightful look at the three women in their early prison life while utilizing flashbacks to show a buildup to the crimes that got them there. The film makes the mistake of trying to portray the three women as brainwashed victims, with their every line delivery accompanied by that patented Manson Family smile. The film works fairly well when showing life on the ranch with Manson and the ways he manipulated those around him. It’s brief depiction of the murders is chilling. As for the prison scenes where the three women are going through a form of therapy, those scenes alternate between pretty good and very bad. Harron is a gifted director, and a full-fledged movie about Manson and his followers might’ve been something else from the likes of her. A semi-sympathetic depiction of his “family victims” leaves a slightly bad taste in the mouth. (Available for streaming and rental during a limited theatrical release).