An obscure film like this one can go badly in so many different ways (as opposed to a film that follows a certain kind of guidelines) – if it plays it safe there is less risk. With less risk, though, there is often less reward, at least in my opinion. Sure you can make sequel after sequel and make a ridiculous amount of money in the process… but these films, these one trick ponies often get forgotten before the year’s end. There is no staying power; when the greatest films of all time are mentioned these onetime blockbusters will be never be on this list. Now, I am not saying that Charlie Countryman is worthy of this list, not in the slightest in fact, but at least it tried, the creators took a risk and broke the mold of what’s considered normal. Again, it isn’t entirely original but it does have its own voice and that’s what I like most about it. It’s the kind of film that knows it’s different, knows it’s weird and is okay with this and I think that’s pretty cool.
For some reason after I watched this movie I thought of another movie, Pain & Gain, directed by Michael Bay. That one was a sad attempt at entertainment but the comparison I am making is that both films spent a lot of time trying to figure out what kind of film it wanted to be. The difference is that with Charlie Countryman this process paid off and Pain & Gain just plain sucked. Charlie Countryman is a mixture of love story and loss and violence and comedy and it all sort of happens at the most inopportune or unexpected of times and it keeps the audience focused because they want to know what will happen next. One minute the main character, Charlie, is having a polite conversation with a stranger on a plane, the next he is being hung upside down with a gun in his face. In between these moments are about exploration of life and what happens when those that are loved, pass on.
The opening ten minutes, Charlie is dealing with the impending death of his mother and as the time comes and she departs he finds himself at a loss. He seemed prepared for it until it actually happened and then he was distraught, naturally. In one of the more abstract aspects of this story, there are moments when Charlie actually has conversations with the recently deceased, including his mother. This conversation he has with his dead mother was heart breaking once you realize it’s of course all in his head; what the audience is witnessing is what Charlie wishes he would have said before she died, but out of some kind of fear he held back saying what he really wanted. This hit me pretty deeply and from that scene alone I decided to give this a chance, and although messy in its execution it is a very lovely and empowering film about loss and the necessity of moving on. I think that is something we can all relate to in one way or another.
Charlie Countryman tells the tale of Charlie (Shia LaBeouf) and the sudden loss of his mother. When she dies he loses a sense of purpose and wants a goal and in a moment of clarity and randomness, he decides on a trip to Bucharest, Romania. In his travels he encounters people of all types… nice, mean, crazy, and unfortunately, murderous. But above all else, he finds her, Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood), the woman he was searching for but didn’t know it. From the moment he lays eyes on her he is on cloud nine, the connection is immediate and strong. Regrettably for Charlie, devils can reach up to cloud nine and pull him down to their level. This is where Nigel comes into play. Nigel (Mads Mikkelsen) is a man not to be trifled with and he is also Gabi’s former husband who can’t seem to let go, let alone allow for some American to take Gabi away. Everything in front of Charlie is screaming at him to run, but in his love for Gabi he has naïve blindness to the pain he will endure if he wants any chance of being with her. He sees dying for love as an honorable and even noble way to go out and the reward, her, is worth the risk.
Not everyone will enjoy this, I’m actually surprised I even liked it, but I did in fact appreciate the film. Something about it touched me and made itself worth the time to watch it in its entirety. All the negative things I had read about Charlie Countryman prior to seeing it nearly kept me away but when I saw the opportunity to view it I had to and I am glad I ignored the adverse reviews. Even though I disregarded the negativity I can understand where they are coming from because as I said, this isn’t for everyone. But much like what I spoke about in the first paragraph having to do with risk and reward; maybe the risk of watching it will pay off, maybe not, there is only one way to find out.
Rated R For: some brutal violence, language throughout, sexuality/nudity, and drug use
Run Time: 108 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, Mads Mikkelsen, Til Schweiger, Rupert Grint, Melissa Leo
Directed By: Fredrik Bond
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4/ Acting: 4/ Directing: 3.5/ Visuals: 3.5
OVERALL: 4 Nerdskulls