A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Charlie Countryman is a dark romance with some nudity, drug use, and strong language throughout. There are several scenes with graphic, bloody beatings, and intense conflicts, such as when the villain pulls a plastic bag over the main character's head and starts to suffocate him. A few people are shot and killed.
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What's the story?
After his mother's death CHARLIE COUNTRYMAN (Shia LaBeouf) hops a plane to Bucharest to soothe his grief and figure out what to do with himself. A chance encounter with beautiful cello player Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood) leaves him smitten, but he also finds himself on the wrong side of her husband, the dangerous gangster Nigel (Mads Mikkelsen). Two pals from the youth hostel (Rupert Grint and James Buckley) are also swept up in the mess, and Charlie must find a way to extricate them all from Nigel's violent schemes.
Is it any good?
Charlie Countryman moves from one scene to another as if by improvisation, but it lacks the grace and poetry of jazz. The eponymous lead, Charlie, doesn't really have a plan; he heads to Bucharest (maybe he should have tried Budapest instead) to see how things go. And that's how this film seems to be structured. LaBoeuf is a fine actor, especially in scenes where his agitation vies with his anxieties. But Wood struggles with a perplexingly overdone accent, and a lack of chemistry with LaBeouf. Neither of them seem to have much motivation to pursue the relationship, and with Nigel looming in the background, there's plenty of reason to avoid becoming entangled.
Grint and Buckley, as two British tourists, also feel like afterthoughts, thrown in to make the gangsters seem even more sadistic. Their spacey drug-fueled evening doesn't do much to advance the story, and Grint's Viagra episode feels comical in a film that doesn't call for a comical interlude. The whole thing is a jumble trying to feel deep and metaphysical. The cinematography wins somewhat; the dreary grays and blacks evoke the menace of a trip one can't control. But a bleak palette shouldn't be a film's brightest spot.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes a good movie. What are the characteristics of a quality film? Which elements does this movie have and what's it missing?
Talk about the world created in this movie. How realistic does it feel? Do you know anyone who's had an experience similar to Charlie's? What kinds of things are exaggerated in this story?
What's your opinion about nudity in movies? Is it just realistic? Are the actors being exploited? Who makes the decisions about which actors appear naked in a movie?
- In theaters: November 15, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: January 21, 2014
- Cast: Evan Rachel Wood, Mads Mikkelsen, Rupert Grint, Shia LaBeouf
- Director: Fredrik Bond
- Studio: Millennium Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some brutal violence, language throughout, sexuality/nudity, and drug use.
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