Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Ryan Gosling To Star In 'Blade Runner 2' Ryan Gosling To Star In 'Blade Runner 2' Watch: New Trailer For 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Flies Into The Galaxy Watch: New Trailer For 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Flies Into The Galaxy Watch: First Teaser Trailer For Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight' Watch: First Teaser Trailer For Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight' 'Macbeth,' Todd Haynes' 'Carol,' Pixar's 'Inside Out' Lead 2015 Cannes Film Festival Line-Up 'Macbeth,' Todd Haynes' 'Carol,' Pixar's 'Inside Out' Lead 2015 Cannes Film Festival Line-Up Watch: Zack Snyder Teases The Full Trailer For ‘Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice' & Upcoming IMAX Event Watch: Zack Snyder Teases The Full Trailer For ‘Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice' & Upcoming IMAX Event Ryan Gosling & Edgar Wright Talk 'Lost River,' Shooting In Detroit, And Advice For First Time Filmmakers Ryan Gosling & Edgar Wright Talk 'Lost River,' Shooting In Detroit, And Advice For First Time Filmmakers Netflix & Marvel's 'Daredevil': The Pros, The Cons, The Verdict Netflix & Marvel's 'Daredevil': The Pros, The Cons, The Verdict Netflix's 'Daredevil' Is An Awesome Achievement And Marvel's Most Graphic & Grounded Effort To Date Netflix's 'Daredevil' Is An Awesome Achievement And Marvel's Most Graphic & Grounded Effort To Date Watch: Action-Packed Footage In 2 New “Avengers: Age of Ultron’ TV Spots, Plus Watch Interviews With The Entire Cast Watch: Action-Packed Footage In 2 New “Avengers: Age of Ultron’ TV Spots, Plus Watch Interviews With The Entire Cast Watch: Trailer For 'The Great Beauty' Director Paolo Sorrentino's 'Youth' Starring Michael Caine & Rachel Weisz Watch: Trailer For 'The Great Beauty' Director Paolo Sorrentino's 'Youth' Starring Michael Caine & Rachel Weisz Joss Whedon Says He's Not Making 'Avengers: Infinity War' Because It's "A Young Man’s Game" Joss Whedon Says He's Not Making 'Avengers: Infinity War' Because It's "A Young Man’s Game" Watch: Take 7 Minutes And Learn The History Of Film Editing Watch: Take 7 Minutes And Learn The History Of Film Editing 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' Called "Amazing" And "More Emotional" With "Insane Action" After First Screening 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' Called "Amazing" And "More Emotional" With "Insane Action" After First Screening Joss Whedon Calls 'Jurassic World' Clip "70s Era Sexist" Joss Whedon Calls 'Jurassic World' Clip "70s Era Sexist" The 20 Most Anticipated Films Of The 2015 Tribeca Film Festival The 20 Most Anticipated Films Of The 2015 Tribeca Film Festival The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

Review: Adolescent, Overwrought & Incoherent 'Charlie Countryman' Starring Shia LaBeouf & Evan Rachel Wood

The Playlist By Rodrigo Perez | The Playlist November 14, 2013 at 6:03PM

"Charlie Countryman" opens up with an arresting image, the titular character (played by Shia LaBeouf) dangling upside down in woozy slow-motion, his face brutally beaten and bloody. As the narrator (John Hurt) explains, Charlie Countryman is languishing in the wind about to be shot by a red-headed girl, and that the young man had to die. And he did it all for love.
6
Charlie Countryman

"Charlie Countryman" opens up with an arresting image, the titular character (played by Shia LaBeouf) dangling upside down in woozy slow-motion, his face brutally beaten and bloody. As the narrator (John Hurt) explains, Charlie Countryman is languishing in the wind about to be shot by a red-headed girl, and that the young man had to die. And he did it all for love.

 

Cut to present day. Charlie is about is about to lose his ailing mother (Melissa Leo). His mom's boyfriend (a brief Vincent D'Onofrio cameo) tells Charlie this is going to be the day they take her off life support (how she got in that state remains explained), and they drive together to the hospital. Charlie and the boyfriend pop some pills, sip some booze and say their final goodbyes. Charlie has some kind of fantastical anxiety attack as she passes—complete with visualizations of her soul leaving her body—and he runs outside, only to discover he can speak to dead people. From the afterlife, his mom, never one for giving much direction or advice, laments that she was a poor maternal figure. Desperate for something, Charlie asks her for some advice of what he should do next. Go to Bucharest, she says. Why the capital of Romania of all places? What's the personal connection? This is completely unclear, but Charlie packs his bags, jumps on a plane and heads straight into a bloody, violent and romantic adventure far greater than he could ever imagine.

Charlie Countryman

On the plane, he meets Mr. Banyai, a curious Romanian man who just wants to talk and talk. Charlie eventually indulges him and they discuss life and his daughter. The man dies in his sleep, and in the spiritual world, he tells Charlie to send his daughter a message. Deplaned, Charlie, after some unnecessary altercations with the airport security, meets Gabi Banyai (Evan Rachel Wood), a cello player with a mysterious dark past. Charlie, dedicated to the spontaneity this adventure his mother sent him on can provide, becomes drawn to Gabi like a magnet, and soon is embroiled in the troubles of her sordid past that includes a violent and unhinged ex-husband named Nigel (Mads Mikkelsen) and his equally psychotic partner Darko (Til Schweiger). Englishmen Rupert Grint and James Buckley play would-be amusing Tweedledum and Tweedledee comic relief figures, but they're just one extraneous part of what starts out as a coming-of-age personal discovery story and quickly deteriorates into an ungainly, violent love-story cum fairy tale that feels like it was made in the post-Tarantino '90s (with a little bit of eurotrash flavor thrown on top for good measure).

The filmmaker at work here is award-winning Swedish commercial director Frederik Bond, who commits the classic transitional mistake many music video directors and commercial lensers make by emphasizing style over substance and story. And "Charlie Countryman" is over-styled to the hilt. While it's bold in its opening stages, the tendency for a visual blow-out to every scene becomes strained, and then just obnoxious. While the "Charlie Countryman" script is dated and unremarkable (even if it did land on the Black List in 2007), Bond would have done well to take out his earbuds to the music-heavy movie for a second, and see what could have been improved on the page. LaBeouf is good in the not-exactly-best-drawn role he's given, and the film is always at its best when it allows the scenes time to breathe and the actors space to perform. But as the movie rolls on, those moments become virtually non-existent.

Charlie Countryman

While the film does feature a good score and soundtrack of tunes that might work better independently from the picture, (M83, Dead Mono, Sigur Ros), Bond can't resist slathering the story with over-euphoric music every chance he gets. In particular, the movie feels like the swelling, love-cranked-up-to-11 crescendo of a Sigur Ros song at all times, making for a picture that seems desperate to be seen as a deeply-felt, slow-motion music video. But with this romantic resonance over-pitched throughout, nothing remains special when it's all at the same decibel level (and if filmmakers could receive slo-mo speeding tickets for the abuse of the medium, Bond would be slapped with a hefty fine).

"Charlie Countryman" opens up with an interesting first section, but only backslides deeper and deeper in its overwrought and incoherent second and third acts. Tonally adolescent, the film is enraptured with the emo-ness and ecstasy of love. It wants to yell from the rafters at all times. It will dive off cliffs in slow-motion to some fever-pitched post-rock song to demonstrate its commitment to your heart. Love may be all you need, but, sheesh, give it a rest for a second. [D+]

This is a reprint of our review from the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

This article is related to: Charlie Countryman, Reviews, Review, Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, Mads Mikkelsen, Til Schweiger, Melissa Leo


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates