Review: Charlie Countryman

…Or by (my personally preferred) its original title, The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, Shia LaBeouf is Charlie who, after the death of his mother, decides to take a trip to Bucharest, during his flight the passenger in the seat next to him dies and starts the sequence of events starting with meeting the stranger’s daughter Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood), immediately falling for her and gradually getting into a little bit of chaos. The film had a fairly limited theatrical release and since then seems to have gone almost unnoticed but that never necessarily means that it isn’t worth watching.LaBeouf hasn’t exactly done himself any favours as of late, with what appears to be his choice of taking the crazy train to several unusual and plain weird places (watching all his films back to back while being filmed live or staying in a lift for 24 hours at Oxford University), but then that’s still not evidence to say he can’t act, especially when you consider Joaquin Phoenix as evidence of strange behaviour in actors. Most people will simply remember him for his role as Sam Witwicky in the Transformers franchise or his childhood work but this film shows why he’s still relevant outside of that, it’s not a role completely outside of his wheelhouse so you can’t describe it as a revelatory performance but it’s intriguing and sympathetic and to some extent almost pathetic, but put together it all creates Charlie who is a fantastic and naive character, who centres this film perfectly.

Then there’s Wood whose career most recently has been understated but respectable, this role first and foremost has the fact that she manages to do a Romanian accent without making it sound like she’s taking the piss, which is not easy. She’s a great love interest with a constant doubt of whether or not she’s trustworthy, she’s not a vapid character created solely to be fallen in love with and she’s a strong, interesting person which is not altogether easy to find in films. The two of them together make a great pair.

The film was written and directed by two fairly unknown names in film, respectively Matt Drake and Fredrick Bond but despite that lack of experience they made something surprisingly good. The story takes you through a crazy but without getting too ridiculous sequence of events, it has humour, romance, action, drugs, violence, music, bad guys and it has that edge of being a little bit weird, which when used right does great things to a film. Right from the start it’s engaging, introducing you to Charlie and making you feel sorry for him which ultimately will make you want to see him turn out okay in the end which is more than enough motivation to enjoy what is a decent film. The moments including Rupert Grint and James Buckley are a slightly more in your face attempt at humour which comes across sleazy rather than funny but they are only a few low moments throughout the film.

The package that is this film appears quite underwhelming from the outset, it’s just one naive idiot falling for a girl and getting himself into trouble because of it, which is what makes it surprising that it is actually funny, entertaining and captivating. The heart of that surprise being finding yourself getting rather strongly drawn into the story, it’s far from perfect and like with the more sleazy moments, it could have been improved with slight refinement but taking it for what it is, I would definitely recommend it.

Verdict: 7.5/10

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