To put it subtly, Being Charlie is about a rich and spoiled boy who recently turned eighteen and is dealing with drug addiction. The movie revolves around his father forcibly sending him to one rehab program after another. Charlie resents this entire system; however, he has no choice left but to finish rehab as his father threatens to send him to jail.
The movie spends a significant amount of time in rehab and gives the viewers an insight on what rehab is like. Rehab is divided into two processes; the in-patient program and the out-patient program.
The rehab program has young individuals dealing with drug addiction and challenges to control their urges of remaining sober. The movie did a great job of humanizing these individuals as compared to the common misperception of drug addicts in rehab being unhinged junkies. There were support groups, yoga sessions, motivating speaker sessions and talent shows. The individuals were supervised and had to follow rules of waking up early and following the curfew. However, the friendships and bonds they created throughout the process shows there was a sense of community among these individuals. They hated the place and considered it prison but valued the relationships they formed here. In a scene, Charlie’s mother compares the rehab facility to a fraternity group in college.
There are some stark similarities evident while comparing the rehab facility depicted in this movie to what rehab in real life is like. Rehabs offer various treatments in the form of therapies. These can be individual behavioral therapies, group therapies, family therapies. All of these therapies were depicted in the film as well. Rehab centers emphasize on teamwork. This can be shown in the movie where the individuals are brushing the horses together and sharing everything that troubles them in the support group. This support group is shown as their safe space.
Romance is usually looked down upon when people are in rehab; however, most rehab centers don’t have a strict policy where you’ll be kicked out if you’re with someone. Perhaps, the rehab center in the film devised this policy to add drama between the protagonist and his love interest by adding an element of forbidden love.
Charlie’s halfway house manager encourages Charlie to be selfish in his journey of recovery in various instances of the movie. Before saving someone he has to save himself. The talent shows in the movie as patients are celebrated and cheered for their range of talents. This ideology of focusing on you resonates with rehab centers in real life as well.
Overall, Being Charlie depicts rehab facility in a humane way which makes the viewers empathize with the protagonist by the end. The writer of the movie, Nick Reiner has also suffered with addiction and had been admitted in rehab. Thus, the narrative of the movie is largely based on the writer’s own real-life experiences, which is why it is relatable to real-life rehab situations.