Charlie Countryman (2013)

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See, this is why you should always watch a film that interests you no matter what, regardless of the general consensus. I don’t know why, but it seems like the past few years have been overflowing with hidden gems that many have dismissed, simply presuming that the opinions and habits of other (idiotic) film-viewers are infallible. Films like “On the Road,” “Only God Forgives, and “The Counselor” have all been notoriously smashed by critics and the general public alike, resulting in an abundance of undeserved negativity, virtually non-existent box office returns and so on. For example, I’ve read a few articles on all the aforementioned flicks, including “Charlie Countryman,” and they’ve all been deemed irrefutably flawed by the majority, in some way, on the top two reviewing websites, those being IMdB and Rotten Tomatoes. The only reason I bring those two up is because in my experience, they’re what a significant amount of movie-goers check for info and testimonials before heading to the theatre or renting a flick.

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People are impressionable you know, when they read a bad review, see terrible opening weekend numbers, it sticks with them, and as much as I try to be, I’m no different. I’ve been excited about “Charlie Countryman” for a while now, but when I saw this black hole of hate engulfing it, I became a little leery. The only thing that kept pushing me forward were my past experiences with the films I previously mentioned. They were all shot down before even being given a legitimate chance. So I vowed that I’d never toss a film to the wayside without due diligence, and boy has that attitude payed huge dividends. While not a contender for best picture of the year, “Charlie Countryman” does have purpose and merit. It’s different, intriguing, heart-wrenching. This might be a bad thing for some, but I like to be sad with a film just as much as I like to be content. So let’s do away with useless cinematic conventions and give the underdogs a chance. Finding films with value on the periphery are all the more rewarding and personal, they stick with you.

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“Charlie Countryman,” Directed by Fredrick Bond and written by Matt Drake, is an extreme love story you won’t soon forget starring Shia LaBeouf, Mads Mikkelsen, Evan Rachel Wood, Rupert Grint, and Til Schweiger. Not to mention tremendous supporting performances from Vincent D’onofrio, Melissa Leo, and John Hurt. Now, with a cast of this caliber, it’s easy to see how some have set the bar unreachably high. But let’s discuss the film itself for now, we’ll return to the performances in a bit. We join Charlie (LaBeouf) in a bit of a crisis, his mother is not longed for this world and he’s struggling with the simplicity of his existence. After his mother passes, Charlie sets off to Bucharest in order to keep a promise he made to her and to realize, experience his life. On the plane, Charlie finds himself in another precarious situation regarding death and promises. Upon landing, amongst the chaos and confusion, Charlie meets Gabi and immediately falls in love, but soon understands that anything worth while comes with sacrifice.

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Right off the top from the plot’s description, it’s clear to see that “Charlie Countryman” isn’t anything out of the ordinary story-wise. This isn’t a problem, simply push the tale’s lack of originality to the back burner and enjoy the film’s strengths. Director Fredrick Bond does a marvellous job capturing the harsh, underworld beauty of Bucharest. A city that doesn’t often get he chance to strut its stuff on the big screen. Complimenting the skylines and structures is a magnificent, entrancing soundtrack that is lively, ambient, and intoxicating. The score, for me anyway, was the pleasant surprise of the entire film. Now, although writer Matt Drake did struggle creating something of individuality and that will stand the test of time. There is some terrific dialogue that’ll give you reoccurring chills. He didn’t get a lot of things right with “Charlie Countryman,” but the one thing Drake’s script isn’t, is cliche.

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Getting back to the portrayals, I mean, what can one say? It’s hard to blame anyone here for “Charlie Countryman’s” faults. In the title role, Shia LaBeouf clearly cherished every moment on screen and the honest ambiguity the character afforded him to unleash. The sadness, happiness, and emotional range he executes is flawless. As for his character’s lover, Gabi, portrayed by the lovely Evan Rachel Wood, there’s nothing to dwell on brashly here either. The accent may get a little ridiculous at times, but she’s equally as emotionally invested as LaBeouf. Now, the main reason I caught this flick was to watch Mads Mikkelsen. No offence to the cast or crew, some of which whom I adore greatly, it’s just that he’s just near the top of my to-watch-list. While Mads doesn’t blow the top off “Charlie Countryman,” he doesn’t phone it in. With his resume, it’s simply hard to turn up a performance that rivals his greatness. The supporting cast is also superbly strong. Compiled of some of the best in the business, if the story and cinematic aspects don’t get you, the cast surely will.

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Superlatively acted, visually striking, and emotionally strong. “Charlie Countryman” may not have the staying power some might have hoped, but is definitely strong enough to evoke a response.

Charlie Countryman: 7 out of 10.

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About Joseph@thecinemamonster

Aspiring writer who absolutely adores film and television. thecinemamonster.com

Posted on November 21, 2013, in Rom-Com and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 39 Comments.

  1. I have also seen some negative commentary on this one, but I too would like to see it. Just hasn’t been an option for me yet. When I finally get the chance, I hope I enjoy it as much as you!

  2. Are you ripping me for hating Only God Forgives???

  3. One of the more positive reviews I have read of this one. Sounds like a rental for me. Although I will never be able to see Shia as anything more than a teenager…

  4. Good review Joseph. Thank you for not listening to others and actually giving this a look-see yourself. I liked it too, and while it definitely does fancy itself more style, than an actual story, it still brought a lot heart, warmth and vibrant energy to the whole proceedings that made the movie worth your while.

  5. LaBeef delivers a good performance? Will wonders never cease!

  6. Wow. Great review Joseph. I’ve really read a great range of opinion on this, mostly trending negative, and like you I almost allowed myself to be convinced that this isn’t a good film. This review, though makes me think completely differently and I will soon add it to a list. Nicely done dude.

    • Thank you very much Tom! That’s what I set out to acheive. Definitely check it out, I’m sure you’ll find value here :).

      • Seems also another chance to let LeBeouf try to wow me again. I never have been a fan really, but i liked him a lot in Lawless. Judging by one of those pics u included it looks like he’s brought to a brittle shell yet again here. I look forward.

  7. I’m looking forward to this regardless of the reviews

  8. Good review! But for some reason I just can’t muster up any interest or anticipation for this movie. I will eventually see it, though. Thanks!

  9. I never even knew about this movie. But your Review has shot it up my ever increasing list of ‘must watch films.’ For one reason only. Shia LeBeouf.

    I’m not a fan of the kid. But I’m always aching be have my perspectives shattered and be proven wrong. It was the same with Leonardo DiCaprio, although LeBeouf may not be Leo… you never know.

    Also, from what little I’ve seen about this, just pictures and all, it reminds me of PUNCH DRUNK LOVE with Adam Sandler. So I will definitely give this a shot. Awesome friend.

  10. Pffffft, Only God Forgives… pffft ;)

    I would like to see what this one is all about and how it is done though because I think the cast is pretty decent. I think Mads Mikkelsen is what excites me the most, he is awesome. Great review Joseph, you have sold me (I was very indifferent to this film, most likely because I had heard nothing of it prior to everyone starting up their reviews this week)!

  11. Great review. I actually loved Only God Forgives. This film never really interested me but after reading the review and seeing its great cast it is now more appealing.

  12. Great review. Very curious about this one. Saw The Counselor a few days ago (haven’t written a review) and I thought it was just terrible, so we disagree there, haha.

  13. Excellent review Joseph. This is the second one I’ve read today, having never even heard of the film before. It’s on my list though. Sounds good!

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