MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Charlie Countryman’

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Film: Charlie Countryman
Starring: Shia LaBeouf
Directed by: Fredrik Bond

Losing a parent is one of the hardest things any individual can go through in life, and the way they choose to cope with that experience can change the entire course of their existence. Charlie Countryman, the directorial debut from Fredrik Bond, tells the story of how one lost soul deals with the death of his mother and how sometimes the best thing you can do to cope is take a chance on the unknown.

Most films open in a way that politely welcomes you to the story, but Charlie Countrymen chooses to greet you on a much heavier note. Charlie (Shia LaBeouf), a twenty-something Chicago native, is seated at his mother’s bedside in a hospital where she is currently being taken off life support. When she passes Charlie cannot stand to be in the room and, distraught, heads to the hospital corridor to try and pull himself together. He collapses onto the floor with his head in his hands and, without a bit of humor, is greeted by the ghost of his just-deceased mother. Charlie asks her what he should do now that he’s lost her, and her response is to travel to Bucharest. He thinks the request strange, but goes ahead and books the next flight out of O’Hare.

While the aforementioned sequence may not be the happiest way to start a movie, it certainly goes a long way toward setting up the structure of Charlie Countryman. It’s a story that toes the line between reality and imagination, or at least attempts to, while telling the tale of how one person must lose themselves in order to understand their purpose in life. For Charlie, that purpose seems to be loving Gabi Ibanescu (Evan Rachel Wood), a Bucharest based orchestral musician with a history of being involved with bad men. He meets her by chance, and before their first encounter is over has already become smitten. What he doesn’t realize, however, is that Gabi’s ex (Mads Mikkelsen) is not entirely out of the picture.

As Charlie’s stay continues, he soon becomes embroiled in a battle for his life and the continued happiness of Gabi. Her ex is relentless, and he has a few friends who are not particularly fond of Charlie’s presence in the area. Fights ensure, love blossoms, chases happen, drugs are taken, and all sorts of unusual moments occur, but when all is said and done the obvious ending is the one Bond chooses to leave on.

Charlie Countryman opens on a heavy note, but it would be unfair to label it as a stereotypical drama. The film bounces from drama, to comedy, action, and back again (2-3x) over the course of the story. It’s a compelling attempt at finding a new way to tell a relatively generic tale, but unfortunately the final results a little bit more mixed than I would have liked. Bond clearly has a unique eye for filmmaking, but in the end Charlie Countryman feels more like a grab bag of great ideas thrown together than a complete film.

Score: B-

Review written by: James Shotwell (follow him on Twitter)

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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