The film premiered on January 21, 2013 at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and was screened in competition at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival. The film was released November 15, 2013 in the United States was released on October 31, 2014 in the United Kingdom.
Charlie Countryman (Shia LaBeouf) is a normal guy living in Chicago. Right after his mother Kate (Melissa Leo) dies in the hospital, he sees her as a spirit. When he asks her what do to with his life, she tells him to go to Bucharest for adventure. He gets drunk and goes to visit his ex-girlfriend Ashley (Aubrey Plaza) and tells her his mother died and he is moving to Bucharest. She asks, "You're sure you're not thinking of Budapest? It's supposed to be really nice there." She gives him a goodbye hug. On the flight, he meets Victor (Ion Caramitru), an elderly man sitting next to him, who is returning home to Bucharest after seeing a Cubbies game, with a silly hat as a gift for his daughter. When Charlie tells him his destination, Victor asks Charlie, "Don't you want to go to Budapest?" Charlie replies, "No," it's a spur-of-the-moment thing, and Victor says he understands. Partway through the plane ride, Victor dies, and Charlie sees him too as a spirit, who asks him to deliver his gift to his daughter, which he promises to do.
Arriving at the airport, he is hassled over the hat by the authorities, but he eventually meets Victor's daughter, Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood), whom he falls instantly in love with. After he gives her Victor's gift, they part. While Charlie is riding in a taxi, he finds Gabi in her car on the side of the road. She tells him she can't keep up with the ambulance containing her father's body, and he offers to help catch up to them. They talk, with Gabi saying she plays the cello for the Bucharest Opera House. They suddenly cause the ambulance truck to crash and flip over, with Victor's body flying out of it. Gabi leaves the area in another truck, leaving her car with Charlie. He takes the car to the opera house, not before finding a revolver in her bag. He takes her belongings to the opera house and watches a performance with Gabi in it. Later on, Gabi is confronted by her estranged and unstable husband, Nigel (Mads Mikkelsen), in a locker room. While they are talking, Gabi spots Charlie walking by. Nigel notices and questions him aggressively. In order to calm Nigel's jealous nature, Gabi lies that Charlie is a tuba player and is "homosexual." Gabi forces Nigel to leave, and he does so. Gabi then tells Charlie to go to a nearby hostel.
Charlie arrives at the hostel and meets his roommates, Karl (Rupert Grint) and Luc (James Buckley). While they are partying, Luc spikes Charlie's beer with Carpathian ecstasy. Charlie enters the bathroom and encounters Nigel, who was waiting inside to apologize for his earlier behavior. Charlie accepts the apology and soon leaves the party. He then sees Gabi walking, and they both go for a run to a nearby subway. After they stop by Victor's favorite café, they part with Gabi telling him that if he finds her the next day, she will kiss him. Charlie, distracted by excitement, ends up being hit by a car. He imagines Nigel being the one who hit him, but it turns out to be the taxi driver who brought him to his hostel. The next day, Charlie wakes up to find out that Karl has taken too much Viagra, and they go to a club seeking medical help for Karl's priapism. The trio are shocked with a bill they are given and are taken to a room by Security and meet Darko (Til Schweiger), a friend of Nigel who questions Charlie of his involvement with Gabi.
After they leave, Charlie meets Gabi at her house for a party honoring Victor, and they go to a room for Gabi to share a kiss. He tells her about Darko, and she warns him of the kind of man he is. After everyone watches home videos of Victor, Nigel finds Charlie there and asks him to make his face look like a tuba player's face. Charlie's response leaves Nigel wondering if Charlie is really a tuba player. Gabi forces Nigel to leave by threatening him using her revolver. After the guests leave, Gabi tells Charlie of how she made the mistake of marrying Nigel; he was injured before they married, and he listened to her performances at the café where she grew up playing. After he recovered, he told her that her music "saved his life." By the time she realized he was a cruel man, it was too late to back out of their relationship. Her father (Victor) found an incriminating tape to use against Nigel to force him to leave the country, but that plan never worked out. After listening to her story, Charlie confesses that he is in love with her, and they have sex. He tells her that his mother died, to which she responds that they finally "have something in common."
The next morning, Charlie finds Gabi gone and a note telling him to not leave the house. Charlie explores the house and discovers a room filled with tapes. He looks through some and decides to watch one out of curiosity for the contents. It happens to be the tape Gabi's father intended to use against Nigel, containing security camera footage of him killing everyone at a dinner table. Charlie, disturbed, leaves the house and soon Gabi with Nigel at a nearby restaurant. He approaches them and explains that he "saw the tape." Nigel tries to make Charlie give up the location of the tape by savagely beating him, but is unsuccessful. Once Nigel leaves, police arrive and take Charlie away. The cops tell him that Gabi doesn't want to see him anymore and that he will be taken to Budapest. He is brought to his hostel to gather his belongings. Upon arrival the hostel owner informs him that men were looking for him. When the men spot him, they chase Charlie to a subway, where he loses them. He returns to Gabi's home to look for the tape and finds Darko there, showing him that Karl and Luc's backs are glued together. Gabi calls Darko and talks about the tape, leaving Charlie injured.
Charlie waits for Gabi at the Opera House, where she tells him that she doesn't want to see him again and says goodbye. She goes to her car with Nigel, where it is revealed that they have the tape and that Gabi had to tell Charlie she didn't want to see him so life would go on. Charlie, saddened by what she said, once again sees his mother as a spirit. She tells him she meant Budapest, not Bucharest, and they laugh. Then she says that she is proud of him and hopes he doesn't die; Charlie says, if he does, he dies "for love." After his mother disappears, he runs to Gabi's car and pulls Nigel out in an attempt to escape. Charlie then attempts to fight him, only to be knocked unconscious. He wakes up above a lake, hanging upside down by a rope. On a deck, Nigel burns the tape and prepares to shoot Charlie, only to have Gabi do it. She shoots his shirt to make it look like he's dead, and the cops arrive. Charlie is dropped into the lake, presumed dead by Gabi. Nigel then commits suicide by cop. Charlie, to Gabi's delight, is revealed to be alive.
The film ends with Karl and Luc finally being separated from the super glue, and Charlie and Gabi finally together in a relationship.Shia LaBeouf as Charlie Countryman
Evan Rachel Wood as Gabriella "Gabi" Ibanescu
Mads Mikkelsen as Nigel
Til Schweiger as Darko
Rupert Grint as Karl
James Buckley as Luc
Ion Caramitru as Victor Ibanescu
Vincent D'Onofrio as Bill
Melissa Leo as Kate Countryman
Andrei Finti as Bela
Aubrey Plaza as Ashley
Lia Sinchevici as Waitress
John Hurt was a brief narrator for the film's original version released at Sundance, but his narration was edited out and is included on its Blu-ray release as an extra.
In early development, LaBeouf dropped out of the project and the title role was briefly given to Zac Efron before LaBeouf returned to the project in August 2010.
Filming took place between May and June 2012 and filmed on location in Romania.
LaBeouf reportedly tripped on acid while filming acid scenes. According to LaBeouf, he had to trip on the acid to really get into the head of his character and to emulate some of his acting heroes. "There’s a way to do an acid trip like Harold & Kumar and there's a way to be on acid. What I know of acting, Sean Penn actually strapped up to that electric chair in Dead Man Walking. These are the guys that I look up to."
Wood criticised the American censors for insisting that a scene be cut in which her character receives oral sex from LaBeouf, while taking no issue with the many violent scenes:
"The scene where the two main characters make ‘love’ was altered because someone felt that seeing a man give a woman oral sex made people ‘uncomfortable’, but the scenes in which people are murdered by having their heads blown off remained intact and unaltered... [Society] wants to shame women and put them down for enjoying sex, especially when (gasp) the man isn’t getting off as well... Accept that women are sexual beings, accept that some men like pleasuring women. Accept that women don’t just have to be fucked and say thank you. We are allowed and entitled to enjoy ourselves. It's time we put our foot down."
The official soundtrack album was released digitally on Feb 11, 2014, by Psychedelic Records. The soundtrack album featured 14 songs of score music composed by Christophe Beck and Deadmono.
Charlie Countryman received negative reviews from critics. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 29% of 63 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 4.1/10; the site's consensus reads: "Shia LaBeouf clearly relishes his role in Charlie Countryman, but his efforts can't salvage the movie's shallow script and overstuffed direction." Metacritic, which assigns a normalized score, rated it 31/100 based on 20 reviews.
John Anderson of Variety called it "a profoundly unnecessary film" with "strained attempts at magic realism". Justin Lowe of The Hollywood Reporter describe it as "an atmospheric feature that sets out to tackle big questions of love and destiny." Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote, "this catastrophe of a movie zigzags drunkenly between action-adventure and surreal comedy with some magical realism slopped over it like ketchup." Robert Abele of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Pulpy dross of surpassing dumbness, Charlie Countryman takes the blender approach to mixing dark adventure, doofus comedy and pie-eyed romance, but forgets to put the lid on when pulsed." Damon Wise of Empire gave a positive review, stating "Bond's use of music is excellent and his vision of eastern Europe both hellish and magical."