The still mysterious Ode to Joy – that is being shown in many indie festivals around the US – ahead of its opening in RiverRun Festival is giving us further information about the characters and the film itself.
RiverRun kicks off with this charming romantic comedy-drama. Martin Freeman (“Sherlock,” the “Hobbit” movies) stars as Charlie, a nebbishy librarian. His life is unrelentingly dull because he has to live that way — he has a condition that causes him to pass out when he experiences too much happiness.Journal Now article
As odd as that sounds, it’s a real condition known as cataplexy, a form of narcolepsy triggered by strong emotions, and was the subject of a segment on the radio show “This American Life.” That interview, titled “I’ve Fallen in Love and I Can’t Get Up,” aired in June 2010.
Charlie’s coworkers and his family — particularly his endearing if lunk-headed kid brother, played Jake Lacy, an alumnus of the UNC School of the Arts — try to help him get through his days pleasantly but without too much joy. But one day a dysfunctional, funny and gorgeous woman named Francesca (Morena Baccarin of “Firefly” and “Homeland”) catches his eye. Comedic mishaps follow as the characters get to know each other and complications arise.
The film manages, mostly, to have fun with the implications of his condition without making fun of his condition, resulting in a genial, bittersweet, but often laugh-out-loud tale.