A mashup of cliché’s tagged with unnecessary nonsense: There’s more to love than living. Uhm?
Charlie Countryman (Shia LaBeouf) leaves Chicago after a vision of his mother appears to him sobbing on the hospital floor upon her death. She (Melissa Leo) tells him to go to Bucharest for no real reason, but hey it’s an adventure. Without question or hesitation he boards the plane, only to have death follow him. During the flight, the friendly Romanian man seated next to him dies while sleeping on Charlie’s shoulder. The air hostess doesn’t seem fazed and simply throws a blanket over the deceased and offers Charlie a complimentary beverage. What?!
Charlie tries to protest but again death speaks to him, telling him what to do. This time it tells him to find the Romanian’s daughter Gabi and give her a message and a silly hat. Charlie is very good at following orders it seems, just doing whatever he is told by visions of the dead – even fighting the police when they want to take the hat from him.
Gabi Ibanescu (Evan Rachel Wood) arrives and Charlie delivers the message and takes off his shirt (stained with her father’s drool and scent) for her to keep. Already it’s clear an unhealthy attachment will shape between the two in mourning.
In between all the drugs and death threats, Gabi and Charlie develop a love affair. He thinks she is what his mother intended for him to find – love. Of course everything builds up to shots being fired, blood spilled and super glue (don’t ask).
I am still not entirely sure what the genre is meant to be. It is a bit like a lucky packet film. There is too much that lacks in the script that you are lead to the conclusion that the focus was always intended on the visuals. Even though it does convey the psychedelic chaos these strangers find themselves in, it’s not enough for one to enjoy it.
The cast throws themselves into their roles completely and make you hope their efforts aren’t wasted. Even though they are good, it still couldn’t save the production as a whole. Interestingly, LeBeouf left the project and was replaced by Zac Efron, but then he returned to finish the film while reportedly tripping on acid to fully understand and embody his character – a very good performance but all for naught.
Wood also had complaints about the final cut. There was a scene where Charlie performs oral sex on Gabi which was cut by US sensors. “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 f***ed and say thank you. We are allowed and entitled to enjoy ourselves. It’s time we put our foot down,” explained Evan Rachel Wood.
SPOILER: In the end Kate returns to tell Charlie she meant Budapest… ghee thanks ghost mom!