There are essentially four characters in writer-director Eric Byler’s hanging-in-L.A. feature debut: intellectual auto mechanic Michael, who manages the small Silverlake apartment building where he resides; lovely would-be actress Lori, who lives downstairs; Lori’s vapid boyfriend, Justin, who frequently spends the night; and mysterious Darcy, a femme fatale who suddenly enters Michael’s life. All these 20-somethings are Asian-American, and none of them is named Charlotte. And the soundtrack’s lyrical-to-a-fault ballads are by Cody ChesnuTT, not the Cure. So is Charlotte Sometimes simply a reference to a favorite song by a band whose music Byler couldn’t afford? The answer to that question is effectively yes, although the writer-director, a former Washingtonian, does contrive a reason for the title. But let the film reveal that secret in its own semisweet time, because there’s not much other intrigue to keep the story from going entirely slack. Michael (Michael Idemoto) worships Lori (Eugenia Yuan), who simultaneously soothes and piques his desire by coming up to his place to chat and snuggle with him after she’s had audible intercourse with Justin (Matt Westmore). (That Justin falls asleep after sex is apparently another sign of his unworthiness.) Then Michael meets Darcy (Jacqueline Kim), which ought to even things out. But Darcy is trouble, rather stereotypically, and Lori doesn’t like her. The two couples’ occasional double dates are tense, although not very revealing, because the characters are all either enigmatic or simply blank. Although Charlotte Sometimes has been compared to the work of various European and Asian directors who gently depict everyday life, Byler is a long way from becoming—to cite one overreaching claim—the Asian-American Eric Rohmer. The film can claim confident performances and Rob Humphreys’ sleek digital-video images, yet its principal characteristic is shallowness rather than subtlety. Ultimately, Byler doesn’t reveal much about the characters because there just isn’t much to reveal. —Mark Jenkins