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Posts Tagged ‘Annabeth Gish’

Matt Smith as Charles Manson

“CHARLIE SAYS” My rating: B-

104 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The murderous Charles Manson family has been the subject of countless films, TV shows and documentaries. “Charlie Says” approaches the yarn from the point of view of one of his “girls.”

Written by Guinevere Turner and directed by Mary Harron (the same team who brought us “American Psycho” nearly 20 years ago), the film is less about Manson (portrayed here by “Dr. Who” veteran Matt Smith) than about Leslie “Lulu” Van Houten, a runaway teen who wandered into Charlie’s harem at the Spahn Ranch (a Western movie set just outside L.A.) and ended up a convicted killer on Death Row.

Lulu is portrayed by Hannah Murray, a Brit actress best known on these shores as Samwell Tarley’s wife Gilly on HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Her role on GOT doesn’t begin to suggest the depth of her work here, in which her character evolves from moon-faced innocent to blood spattered loony who repeatedly stabbed one of the family’s victims.

In the “present” (about 1973) we find Lulu, Patricia “Katie” Krenwinkel (Sosie Bacon) and Susan”Sadie” Atkins (Marianne Rendon) occupying separate cells in a California prison.  The state has recently outlawed executions,  but the three women are considered too dangerous to join the rest of the prison population, and so can look forward to living their lives alone own Death Row, able to call to one another but only rarely actually seeing  their comrades’ faces.

Enter a grad student (Merritt Wever) who convinces the prison administration to allow her to hold classes for the three.  During these sessions — ostensibly about women’s studies and other topics — the inmates talk about their lives with Charles Manson.  These scenes unfold in flashbacks.

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