By Henry Burge | Drama
A diner owner has 24 hours to save his family from the criminal underworld.

Charlie gets a visit from an old acquaintance at the diner he owns. This old acquaintance -- an older man with a wary demeanor and sinister way of speaking -- asks if Charlie's seen someone they both know: Bobby, who has stolen some money and other valuable assets. If the older man can't find Bobby by tomorrow, Bobby's in trouble.

So Charlie takes off, driving all around Los Angeles's seamier corners in search of the elusive Bobby. Instead of finding Bobby right away, Charlie finds violence, poverty and disenfranchisement -- and eventually disappointment and heartache.

Written and directed by Henry Burge (who also plays the lead role of Charlie), this short drama sits in the tradition of Californian neo-noir, a la Chinatown or L.A. Confidential. In these taut Raymond Chandler-type of stories, the flat, relentless sunniness of Los Angeles can't mask an uneasy congealing of moral corruption underneath the workaday surfaces of the city. Shot with a worn-in patina that emphasizes the many textures of Los Angeles and scored with an earthy, edgy rock 'n roll soundtrack, Charlie's journey takes us deeper into a kind of underworld, a land of lost souls left behind by society.

The writing carefully modulates its flow of information, creating intrigue and mystery each turn in Charlie's quest to find Bobby. A parallel question emerges alongside the central one of whether or not Charlie will find Bobby: just who is Bobby, anyway? As that answer becomes clear, the relationships and emotions deepen, imbuing the film with a darker sense of tragedy as we burrow deeper into the hidden corners of the city.

Burge plays Charlie with a stoic reserve, a tough-guy exterior that works well with the film's 1970s rebel Hollywood atmosphere. But he also communicates glimmers of disappointment, sadness and resignation at the situation he's been put in, as well as a briefly seen but searing connection to Bobby. That connection motivates him to go above and beyond -- but it might also prove his undoing.

"Bobby" has a restraint and stoicism befitting both its main character and its cinematic heritage. It's another story of "a man's work is never done," of someone minding their own business and trying to keep to their path. But through their loyalty and sense of moral rectitude, the hero gets pulled in anyway. Despite their fortitude, strength and force of will, they can't quite escape the undertow of darkness itself. In this bout of man vs. environment, the city wins every time.

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