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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars

on 11 April 2014
When Charlie Countryman (Shia LaBeouf) obeys his mother's (Melissa Leo) wishes and goes to Bucharest to experience life, he finds himself confronted with more adventure that he could, or might have wanted to, wish for. Because, his chance meeting on the plane with the father of a beautiful cello player, Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood), brings him into contact with the brutal side of Bucharest; people like Gabi's thuggish ex-husband (Mads Mikkelsen) and thuggish 'night-club' owner (Til Schweiger) who, together, have a dark secret that Gabi's father knew about.

What a great movie! Gone has the clean cut boyish look of Shia LaBeouf of the Transformers, to be replaced in Charlie Countryman (2013) by a grubby-looking Shia LaBeouf who doesn't look like he's had a wash since before last Christmas. Vincent D'Onofrio plays a very small role, a bit part, in Charlie Countryman, which is a pity as I always enjoy his performances. Although Shia LaBeouf is in the starring role and is brilliant, Danish actor, Mads Mikkelsen, almost outshines him. You might remember Mikkelsen from Casino Royale (2006). He also appeared in Clash of the Titans (2010). Rupert Grint, of Harry Potter fame, appears as a bit of a lad staying in the same hostel as Charlie and another lad called Karl (James Buckley - The Inbetweeners).

The film is frequently very violent with strong language throughout but it's an integral part of the film rather than stuck in just to add to the action. It's also partly fantasy but only in as much as Charlie has a habit of having conversations with the deceased which did nothing but get him into endless trouble. There are lots of laughs but mostly the humour is dark.

You could say Charlie is more a lover than a fighter. Kept punching other men's fists with his face.
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on 4 December 2013
"Charlie Countryman" (2013 release; 108 min.) brings the odd but somewhat charming story of Charlie Countryman (played by Shia LaBeouf). As the film opens, Charlie is at his mom's death bed in the hospital. In a dream (hallucination?) shortly after she passes away, he asks her what he should to next, and she tells him "Go to Bucharest". Don't ask why (no explanation is given), but Charlie decides to take his mom's advice. On the flight over there he befriends Victor, who promptly dies in his sleep. Charlie arrives in Bucharest and gets to know Victor's daughter Gabi (played by Evan Rachel Wood), and falls for her. Unfortunately for Charlie, Gabi is married to Nigel (played by Mads Mikkelsen), a crazy loose canon with ties to the mob. Meanwhile Charlie finds a place to stay at the Marco Polo youth hostel in Bucharest and befriends his two British room mates who have a liking for acid (yes, the drug). Can Charlie keep Gabi out of harm's way (from Nigel)? Will Gabi fall for Charlie? What becomes of the two room mates? To tell you more would ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: first, it seems that LaBeouf is trying hard to stay away from more Transformer-like predictable roles. Last year there was the excellent "Lawless", and now this. On top of that, LaBeouf looks scrungy for most of the film, I suppose to give his role an even more authentic feel. (Along the same lines, LaBeouf reportedly took acid for real to shoot the acid hallucination scene.) Unfortunately, none of that fixes the film's subpar script, which has holes in it the size of Manhattan and doesn't seem to know whether it wants to be a rom-com or an action/adventure movie. Second, Mads Mikkelsen is absolutely delightful as the crazed husband/crime guy. Third, I hardly recognized Evan Rachel Wood as the Romanian girl. She plays up the Eastern European accent on top of that. Last but certainly not least, except for the opening scenes (which take place in Chicago), the entire movie is shot on location in Bucharest. I've never seen the city look more beautiful than in this film.

Imagine my surprise when this film opened on a single screen for all of Greater Cincinnati here a few weekends ago, without any pre-release fanfare or advertising. I was in the mood for something different and took a chance on this so I went to see it. I got a quasi-private showing, as in: there was only one other person besides myself in the entire theatre. When that happens on a Friday evening of its opening weekend, you know a movie is commercially D.O.A. But despite its obvious flaws, I quite enjoyed this beautiful mess. If you are in the mood for something different than your standard Hollywood fare like Last Vegas or Bad Grandpa, "Charlie Countryman" is worth taking a chance on, be it in the theatre or on DVD/Blu-ray.
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