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Zero Charisma

International Premiere
  • USA
  • 2013
  • 88 mins
  • HD
  • English
Official Selection, SXSW 2013

“The best film ever made about nerds” – Devin Faraci, BADASS DIGEST

“Captures the tail end of a culture in which specialized dice, character sheets and hand-painted figurines were the gateway to elaborate flights of imagination” – Peter DeBruge, VARIETY

Scott is a heavy-set, tried-and-true nerd living with his grandmother. He’s into heavy metal and the custom-made, intricate D&D-styled tabletop RPG of which he is the ultimate game master. Passionate, if socially awkward and possibly damaged since childhood by a distant mother making sporadic, annoying appearances in his life, Scott hosts a game night like no other. Every week his small group of friends gathers, furthering the scenario they have been playing for three years. When one of the participants’ girlfriend threatens to break up with him, forcing him to leave the crew, Scott is left with an opening soon filled by knowledgeable, sociable, successful, Ray Ban-clad hipster-nerd Miles. In him, Scott will find his nemesis — and a dynamic through which both will be forced to examine their failings as individuals, as well as the implications of their respective places within so-called “nerd-dom”.

First-time directors Katie Graham and Andrew Matthews offer the most relevant, empathic examination of the genuine hardships of being a nerd since FREAK & GEEKS went off the air. Yet while excellent as a reference-heavy, all-too-relatable and pitch-perfect nerd comedy in its own right, ZERO CHARISMA also offers the perfect cure to the representations recently found in shows like THE BIG BANG THEORY and other derivatives. It’s a poignant, layered character study pitting ideas of the “genuine” and the “fake” against each other. At the centre of this powerful slice of life (from which no one comes out completely unscathed), one finds Scott (Sam Eidson, a true revelation), a tragic hero forced to come of age very late in life as his inner circle falls apart and his position as alpha nerd is threatened. Graham and Matthews offer a keen, heartfelt look at the reality of growing up different from others, alienated from and by parents (Cyndi Williams of COMPUTER CHESS is absolutely stunning as Scott’s mother) and, sometimes by your own doing, from you own friends. Genuinely funny, brilliantly written and subtly acted, ZERO CHARIMA is a nerd dramedy for the ages, utterly endearing and as heartbreaking as not getting that goddamn 20 when it’s your turn to roll the dice.

Fantasia 2013 - Zero Charisma from Fantasia Film Festival on Vimeo.

— Ariel Esteban Cayer

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