LJ over at A Journey East started a movie club, and Charlie Countryman was June’s film pick (Watch her YouTube review here). I’ve been wanting to watch that one, so I thought I’d give it a go, too.
Charlie Countryman stars Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, and Mads Mikkelsen. Rupert Grint also makes a side appearance. The film, directed by Fredrik Bond, follows Charlie after the death of his mother whose spirit tells him to go to Bucharest. On the plane there, he connects with a man sitting next to him who dies before landing. His spirit tells Charlie to deliver a message to his daughter. From there, Charlie is set on a journey of finding himself and love and what he’s willing to go through for those things.
This one checked a lot of boxes for me as I am a sucker for indie-films and an even bigger sucker for character studies.
Visually, there was a concentration on close ups and what was happening in the characters faces, which the actors delivered; Shia LaBeouf really shines in this role, I think. His and Wood’s emotions were all right there, playing on the surface. I also like the homage to Romania. When the camera did pan out, it definitely showed off the gritty beauty of the area. I also loved some of the subtleties. Charlie does a lot of running, and there was one part where he looks over as he’s running to see graffiti of a running stick figure next to him and he kind of gives it a nod; a great visual touch.
Plot wise, I can say I wasn’t completely on board with the intensity of the love story. The amount of time they knew each other didn’t really justify the lengths he went to for me (vague, but I don’t want to spoil anything as I still feel it is worth the watch). I did like the action/Nigel plot line. I think it would’ve been equally interesting, if not maybe more, to have the film center on Wood’s character instead of LaBeouf’s. Mikkelsen is terrifying as he is in most his roles, and that plot line would’ve showcased him more (Does anyone else feel like there’s something creepy about Mikkelsen in general? He’s probably the nicest guy in real life, but something about him would scare me if I ran into him in any dark setting.).
Although, I wouldn’t discount Charlie’s role, either. I’m about to layout some SPOILERS here, so if you don’t want to know, skip to the bottom.
I liked the imagery the ending represented, at least my interpretation of it. I felt like he went to Romania as a lost guy who was searching for a way to fill the hole his mother’s death left behind. He’s broken and confused and he meets this girl who’s kind of equally messed up, if not more. And, by the end, through loving this girl and also discovering his own bravery through her, he risks his life for her and his belief in them, popping up out of the water all clean and happy and renewed. Anyone else feeling a baptismal vibe there? If you think about it, he was literally shattered and bleeding as he went in, and he emerged blood free and smiling.
**END OF SPOILERS**
All and all, I give it a 7 out of 10. Even if I wasn’t fully on board with the love story, I think the visual beauty is worth a watch, the acting is great, there are some heartbreaking moments as well as some funny ones—thank you Rupert Grint and James Buckley—but I didn’t feel like I got enough of all the characters to really flesh it all out and make me care about them and understand the depth of the situation.