Feature

Charlie Victor Romeo

Inside the cockpits of six crash-bound flights

Directed by Robert Berger, Patrick Daniels, and Karlyn Michelson
(Not rated)

***

Charlie Victor Romeo is “one of the most terrifying movies I have ever seen,” said A.O. Scott in The New York Times. A “curious hybrid of documentary and experimental theater,” it re-enacts six airline crashes by having actors recite the actual dialogue from each flight’s cockpit voice recorder (or “Charlie Victor Romeo” in aviation lingo). “Horrifying as it is” to sit through, the film gives disaster an oddly abstract feel, reminding us that death and other catastrophes always arrive on their own calendar. As in the popular 1999 play that the movie’s based on, the actors appear in multiple cockpit roles, adding to the film’s “repetitive, static” feel, said Gary Goldstein in the Los Angeles Times. But the staginess is intentional, and the solid performances and strong sound design “effectively compound the chill.” Some may question the morality of creating entertainment from the words of people who were about to die, said Stephanie Zacharek in The Village Voice. But Charlie Victor Romeo treats all the dead with “honor and discretion.” The result is “a work of shivery intimacy.”

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