94 minutes, Ireland, 2011, Colour, D-Cinema

Terry McMahon’s debut feature is an excoriating portrait of an entitled sociopath who, after running over a working-class girl, decides to remove himself from the constraints imposed by society and leave all his major choices to a deck of cards, beginning with whether or not to stop and aid his victim.

To all outward appearances, Charlie is sophisticated and highly intelligent, which enables him to become the de facto leader of his circle of friends. We soon discover that this urbane exterior serves merely to mask Charlie’s contempt, not just for his peers but for people in general. Embroiling his friends and associates in his use of the cards, his increasingly reckless schemes finally spiral out of control.

While Charlie Casanova is deliberately confrontational and not an easy watch, the central performance of Emmett Scanlan grips the viewer throughout in a film that indicts the greed and corruption it suggests are endemic in the Irish establishment. McMahon’s debut certainly provides much food for debate. (Notes by Kevin Coyne.)

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