Kirven Blount
March 07, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

How to classify a film that makes you cringe and thrill with equal intensity? Camp? Kitsch? Meta? Charly! Adapted from Daniel Keyes’ haunting novel Flowers for Algernon, wherein a developmentally disabled man becomes superintelligent via experimental surgery, the premise is certainly alluring. But director Ralph Nelson and screenwriter Stirling Silliphant make a multitude of jaw-dropping choices — like a trippy Charly-as-biker/beatnik montage and a sequence in which pre-op Charly chases post-op Charly through a dream maze. Only now released on DVD (it’s certainly not growing any less dated as time goes by), Charly won Robertson a Best Actor Oscar for his grounded portrayal of a man walking through the minefield of newfound awareness — to say nothing of the minefield of unintentionally hilarious contrivances. EXTRAS would have been great (there’s a lot of room for elucidation); too bad there aren’t any.

You May Like