Charlie Says (2019) Plot
Charlie Says brings to life the chilling saga of Leslie “Lulu” Van Houten’s journey within the twisted Manson Family cult, and the relentless efforts of Karlene Faith to deprogram her, along with Patricia “Katie” Krenwinkel and Susan “Sadie” Atkins, following their imprisonment for the horrifying Tate and LaBianca murders. The film seamlessly blends scenes from different time periods, unfolding a tale of manipulation, brainwashing, and ultimate tragedy.
At the outset, we witness a haunting scene where Lulu washes blood off her face after the LaBianca murders. As time jumps forward, Lulu, Katie, and Sadie find themselves in the confines of the California Institution for Women’s Special Security Unit, where Karlene, a graduate student, enters their lives with the goal of challenging their deeply ingrained beliefs, instilled by none other than the enigmatic figure of Charlie Manson, whom they idolize.
Through poignant flashbacks, we witness Lulu’s introduction to the Manson Family at Spahn Ranch, led by the charismatic yet sinister Charlie. Under his spell, they embrace a life of sex, drugs, and unconditional loyalty to Charlie’s deranged philosophies. Karlene, deeply troubled by their indoctrination, attempts to offer them alternative perspectives, but their minds remain firmly ensnared by Charlie’s manipulation.
As the story unfolds, we see how Charlie’s focus shifts from a failed music career to plotting acts of violence, fueled by his twisted belief in a race war he calls “Helter Skelter.” The film poignantly depicts the harrowing moments leading to the infamous Tate and LaBianca murders, revealing the depths of darkness to which his followers were willing to descend.
Karlene’s mission to restore the girls’ individuality and liberate them from the grip of Charlie becomes an uphill battle. Despite her efforts, she realizes that the heinous murders have left indelible scars on Lulu, Katie, and Sadie, haunting them forever. In a poignant climax, Lulu comes to the painful realization that the murders were senseless, far from the revolution they were promised.
Charlie Says delves into the psyche of vulnerability and manipulation, serving as a stark reminder of the dangers posed by charismatic leaders and the devastating consequences of blind devotion. This film is a compelling and eye-opening narrative, tailor-made for American English movie enthusiasts seeking a thought-provoking exploration of real-life horrors and the resilience of the human spirit.
Charlie Says (2019) Cast
- Hannah Murray as Leslie “Lulu” Van Houten
- Matt Smith as Charles Manson
- Sosie Bacon as Patricia “Katie” Krenwinkel
- Marianne Rendón as Susan “Sadie” Atkins
- Merritt Wever as Karlene Faith
- Suki Waterhouse as Mary Brunner
- Chace Crawford as Tex Watson
- Annabeth Gish as Virginia Carlson
- Kayli Carter as Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme
- Grace Van Dien as Sharon Tate
- Bridger Zadina as Paul Watkins
- Julia Schlaepfer as Sandra Good
- Dayle McLeod as Catherine “Gypsy” Share
- India Ennenga as Linda Kasabian
- Cameron Gellman as Bobby Beausoleil
- James Trevena Brown as Dennis Wilson
- Bryan Adrian as Terry Melcher
Charlie Says (2019) Review
Charlie Says might have its heart in the right place and offer some contemplative moments, but it ultimately falls short in delivering a truly unique and insightful perspective. On May 11, 2019, the movie was given a rather lukewarm 2 out of 4 rating, with critics expressing their reservations about its ambiguity and cautious approach. While it delves into the captivating and feminist exploration of Manson’s initial victims—the girls themselves—the film still leaves some room for improvement in providing fresh revelations and deep revelations into their experiences.
Overall, Charlie Says attempts to shed light on the minds of these young women ensnared in the sinister Charlie Manson’s web, but some critics believe it could have taken bolder creative risks to truly stand out. Nevertheless, for American English movie enthusiasts intrigued by the darker aspects of real-life narratives, this film might still offer a captivating and thought-provoking watch.
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