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Though a strange movie, it is also one of the most compelling ones that I didn’t go to a theater to see.
Review (with Spoilers)
People often wonder why actors are paid millions of dollars for movies, and the reason is name recognition. This film I never heard of, but because Shia LaBeouf is in it; Evan Rachel Wood, who I haven’t seen in anything for some time; Rupert Grint; and Melissa Leo, I gave it a chance. And, I’m quite glad I did.
Characters & Story
The story focuses on one Charlie Countryman (played by Shia LaBeouf) whose mother Kate (played by Melissa Leo) has just died. So, with his mother’s post-mortem advice, he ends up going off to Bucharest. On his way he meets the father of Gabi (played by Evan Rachel Wood) who dies on the plane ride over, but through him knowing her dad, something sparks. However, with Gabi having a complicated relationship with her ex Nigel (played by Mads Mikkelsen) she doesn’t seem free to date.
Thus leading us on a wild tale of Charlie meeting two crazy guys, one of which played by Rupert Grint, and him ending up in some weird situation with the mob. All of which gives you this crazy thriller, with a romantic plot sewed in, which is so insane. Yet, at the same time so good.
There is so much to praise in this film. The music was well done and set a beautiful tone, the places they filmed were beautiful and showed both the side of Eastern Europe, Bucharest – Romania specifically, that we are used to seeing in horror films, yet at the same time showing us the beauty of a country which has gone through so much over the centuries. Then there is the writing which has one or two hiccups, but for the most part is something easy to understand, with a tad a of mystery, but overall really gives the actors a lot to work with. LaBeouf makes a great lead and shows that the years of doing Transformers has prepped him for handling a film like this; Wood pulls off a Eastern accent well enough so that while she does sound like how we are often told Eastern Europeans sound like, it doesn’t seem like she is mocking their people, but truly is trying to be one of them.
Then there is Mikkelsen. His performance was on the level of a Bond villain. He was crazy passionate about a woman who once was in love with him and would go mad if anyone tried to take her from him. Also, he had this really cool background, of which not a huge amount of details were given, but god he seemed like such a bad ass. At the same time though, he maintained that same cool and cold demeanor that he has on Hannibal. I would say, though perhaps it wouldn’t be best for his career, that he could easily typecast himself as a villain for the rest of his career and make a lot of money doing it. Especially since Hollywood hasn’t really moved on from having the villain being someone from Eastern Europe/ Russia completely yet.
Which leads to the one thing I didn’t get about this film. Three times in the film we see Charlie talk to a dead person. Twice being his mom, and one time he speaks with the corpse of Gabi’s father, and I wondered why only those two did he ever speak to. And while the lack of clarity with Nigel was good for the character, us never learning if Charlie had a gift or something just seemed weird. I mean, if he simply talked to his mom then it would have made sense since he would be grieving, but with him talking to Gabi’s father, that complicated things and left us with a guy who maybe a medium, but only uses said power 3 times.
Overall: Worth Seeing
It is weird to feel a sort of rush after seeing a movie. Maybe it is because I haven’t watched a thriller in a really long time, but god was this movie the best thing to reintroduce me to the genre. Pretty much, to me anyway, everything was on point and outside of the odd character trait Charlie has with speaking with the dead, there isn’t anything really to pick on. So, that is why I’m saying it is worth seeing.