In the beginning of the film--and then again all throughout--flat shots on Charlie’s stoic expression linger for a suggestively awkward amount of time. Once Charlie is sentenced to seven years in prison, he has a moment with his newlywed wife where neither say anything nor do anything; but the time spent on their glib expressions suggests their separation.
Because of the fantastic nature of the film, it’s only appropriate that the editing mimic the fantastic tone. When Charlie provokes fights with the guards, the editing matches the rhythm of his sparring to strengthen the viewer’s alignment with Charlie’s point of view. When Charlie is sure of himself, the takes are long and beautiful. When Charlie is an emotional train wreck, the cuts are far more intrusive and dramatic. Pace is understood in the editing; long takes are used following quick cuts to afford the viewer a chance to breathe and come to grips with the subtext of Charlie’s situation and conflict.
The editing also implies the psychology of the film and accentuates moments of reckoning for Charlie. At one point in the film, Charlie steals a diamond ring to give to the girl he loves, and she takes it and tells him that she’s got a boyfriend. The fade-to-black on the listless eye-line Charlie casts informs the viewer; the act break calls attention to the beat where Charlie is at his lowest emotional point. Fade-outs are used to slow down the psychology of the film where non-verbal and off-screen beats are communicated.
The editing in character-piece Bronson informs the viewer about how to feel about the protagonist and conveys the subtext and motivation of his story.