While traveling abroad, a guy falls for a Romanian beauty whose unreachable heart has its origins in her violent, charismatic ex.
This film originally premiered at the Sundance Film Festival way back in January 2013, and it’s not usually a positive sign when a cinematic release is delayed as long as this. As things stand, ‘Charlie Countryman‘ is a mixed directorial debut by Fredrik Bond, that merges some interesting ideas with some plainly bizarre choices throughout. The film follows the ridiculously named Charlie Countryman (Shia LaBeouf), who travels to Bucharest on a whim after a vision of his recently deceased mother tells him to do so (no, I’m not making this up). On the journey there, the man sitting next to him dies, and in another ‘vision’ asks him to take a hat he’d bought as a gift to his daughter, Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood, joining a long line of Hollywood actors and actresses putting on terrible accents). It turns out pretty quickly that Gabi is unattainable, and this puts Charlie at odds with her estranged gangster ex-husband, Nigel (Mads Mikkelsen, in the second ridiculous name of the movie). There’s a semblance of plot in amongst this all, but it’s too messy and convoluted to really care about unfortunately.
The film’s main strengths come in its stylistic choices, with a terrific soundtrack and some individual scenes that stand out as memorable on their own (albeit never coming together to create anything greater than the sum of its parts). Shia LaBeouf, for all his problems off screen, has started putting in strong performances on screen and he’s on good form here, with Til Schweiger and Mads Mikkelsen the pick of the supporting cast as the men seeking to hunt him down. The biggest problem with the film is that Bond never really knows what type of film he wants this to be, so it meanders between action adventure, romance, comedy and surrealism and the positive elements struggle to overcome that. Overall, there’s elements I liked about the film and Bond uses music and the Eastern European setting to create a heightened atmosphere, but too often it’s bogged down by a poor script and ridiculous plot contrivances.
Directed By: Fredrik Bond
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, Mads Mikkelsen, Til Schweiger, Vincent D’Onofrio, Rupert Grint, James Buckley and Melissa Leo