And the award for the most surprising movie of the year goes to Charlie Countryman! Wow, I mean I had no interest at all in this movie, do not know why I watched it, I realize that sounds completely ridiculous considering my first statement. But wow, did I make a mistake. This is easily the biggest surprise movie I’ve seen this year, don’t listen to the critics on this one. If you have at least some interest in the plot, go for it you may not be sorry.
Plot: While traveling abroad, a guy falls for a Romanian beauty whose unreachable heart has its origins in her violent, charismatic ex.
**REVIEW CONTAINS IMPORTANT PLOT POINTS FOR EARLIER SCENES, BUT NO MAJOR SPOILERS****
Shia LaBeouf. He just keeps getting weirder and weirder. Going from Phil of the Future, to Transformers, to Mister Indie Cinema. It’s quite the transition. Now, where it gets conflicting is – am I a fan or not? Well I did like some of his performances, in “The Company You Keep”, “A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints”, “Disturbia” he had some pretty good performances, especially A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. But he also had a pretty terrible performance in “Bobby”, a film that I can easily say is one of the finest ensemble films of the past 15 years, in my opinion. I can’t entirely say I’m a fan of Shia’s, but I’m not gonna dismiss him if he’s gonna have roles as terrific as this. He plays the mentioned lead Charlie Countryman, a man who, after losing his mother, is visited by her ghost and told to travel to Bucharest to find himself. On the way there, however, he meets a man and creates a strong connection with him; Charlie shares his story about his mom, Victor shares his stories about his deceased wife and beloved daughter. To make things more stressful for Charlie, he wakes up to find Victor has passed on. But in turn Charlie is visited by Victor’s ghost who tells him to bring a hat he had bought in Chicago to his beloved daughter Gabi. And there is where everything begins. I got a bit carried away there. Shia’s performance was terrific, he really gave it his emotional all. Sure, not the greatest performance of the year, but anyone who is able to actually ingest LSD to make their performance quote-unquote more real and not screw it up is a mark of a good actor. Evan Rachel Wood, in a good performance, plays the character Gabi, Victor’s daughter. As I said, she gave a very good performance, but her accent was a little distracting at times. The other fine performance to mention was Mads Mikkelsen’s performance as Gabi’s psychotic ex Nigel, who is trying to keep Charlie away from Gabi as best as he can. Not as great or having the emotional depth as his performance in The Hunt, but still terrific. The film also features some excellent supporting performances from Melissa Leo (as Charlie’s mother), Til Schweiger (as Nigel’s business partner Darko), and Vincent D’Onofrio (as Charlie’s stepfather Bill).
The film was directed by a newcomer by the name of Fredrik Bond, and he did an excellent job capturing some of the more thrilling moments of the film without going too over-the-top with the shaky-cam. I especially appreciated the very colorful cinematography, which felt like it was shot on Technicolor celluloid at times. Not overly bright and wildly colorful, but just well done enough to offset some of the films more darker moments.
I’d also love to add I loved the musical score to this film, the EDM really complimented each scene, and the tone of this film, quite well. I especially loved that Moby was involved with some of the score work, providing some excellent original tracks.
The film was written by Matt Drake, who’s known for co-writing the screenplay to Project X, which is shocking to me because I loathe that movie with a passion. The characters here are as full-fledged as they can possibly be, with genuine moments of emotional depth flowing about. He really did an excellent job balancing some of the more comedic elements with the more darker elements, it was the perfect mix of action-comedy and serious crime-drama, with thriller elements thrown in at a few points in the film for good measure.
In conclusion, “Charlie Countryman” is a surprising movie indeed; it’s well written, terrifically acted by the entire cast, and stylishly directed. In my opinion it is way better than the critics were claiming, so I do recommend it.
My Rating: 8.5/10
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