Three or four years ago, most people thought of Shia LaBeouf as the silly guy from the Transformer movies, but now the name draws even more negative connotations. While he has had a less than desirable past year, I believe that he is one of the better actors around, though I was skeptic when I heard about Charlie Countryman. Charlie Countryman follows LaBeouf as the title character, who goes to Bucharest after his mother’s death. Long story short, he falls in love with a woman but her ruthless ex is not willing to let her go.
Shia LaBeouf really does shine in this in a way that only he can. LaBeouf can never honestly portray a tough guy and this role really plays to his strengths without feeling like every other role he’s done. The majority of his acting is done with his eyes, every scenes he looks to be there, not everyone is a fan of method acting, but it appears LaBeouf prefers to live more in the scene than others. Evan Rachel Wood plays Gabi, the Romanian woman who Charlie falls for. Her Romanian accent wasn’t terrible and neither was her acting. Overall, her chemistry with LaBeouf was strong. Mads Mikkellsen played Gabi’s ruthless ex-husband and he does so with the same intensity that he brings to every role. Mikkellsen is a scary man when he wants to be.
The pacing of the film felt off, at times it was action-packed pacing but other times it slowed to a crawling pace. While no movie should ever be all heart pounding action, a quicker pace in the slow parts might have helped. Despite the strong performances, the weak pacing only tarnished an already weak story and brittle directing done by Fredik Bond. It was in no way terrible, but personally if the film had been any slower, I would have snapped. The pay off is decent, but the ending could have been stronger.
There is a scene where ,under the influence of drugs, Charlie wonders the streets and has a fun/terrible night. Ultimately that might have been the best scene in the film as the subtle effects are “trippy” and fit in very well. If more scenes had been that well done, the movie would have been undoubtedly great. Instead, I’m left with mixed feelings. I’m not sure if I love it or if it was just alright. At a runtime of 108 minutes, I can’t say giving it a watch would be a bad thing.
Fun Fact: LaBeouf reportedly took drugs while filming the hallucination scene.