Thursday, November 14, 2013

Indigestible chaos in Romania

In Charlie Countryman, first-time Swedish director Fredrik Bond tosses off some interesting images, even when he's trying to keep things looking seedy. Fair to say that Bond and his director of cinematography, Roman Vasyanov, prove they have eyes for unusual shots. Storytelling? That's another matter. Chaotic to the point of confusion, the movie casts Shia LaBeouf as a young man adrift after his mother's death: Bond can't find a groove that makes sense of the journey LaBeouf's character takes: from Chicago to Bucharest. Why Bucharest? Charlie's recently departed mom (Melissa Leo) appears to her son in a vision and instructs him to head for Romania. On his flight to Bucharest, Charlie meets Victor (Ion Carmitru), a warm-hearted Cubs fan who dies before the plane lands. Once in Bucharest, Charlie looks up the daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) Victor told him about before his unfortunate demise. It shouldn't surprise anyone that Charlie falls in love or that his romantic pursuit is not problem free. Charlie's interest in Wood's Gabi upsets Nigel (Mads Mikkelsen), a handsome but vicious thug who was once Gabi's lover. As he wanders around Bucharest, Charlie also meets Darko (Til Schweiger), a gangster who -- like Nigel -- is looking for a videocassette that seems to have some importance in advancing what little story can be found. Adopting a Ratso Rizzo-like shuffle and a haggard look, LaBeouf becomes the naive tourist in a city inhabited by bizarre, sometimes dangerous characters. He also meets a couple of companions at a youth hostel (James Buckley and Rupert Grint). Working with a less-than-convincing accent, Wood doesn't seem quite tantalizing enough to justify Charlie's willingness to die for love, and Charlie Countryman (originally titled The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman) emerges as little more than a pop pastiche that travels an awfully long way to go nowhere.

No comments: