The Necessary Death of Charlie CountrymanCultureCinemaMovie reviews
Coming-of-age stories are often about waking up, but The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman takes that a little too literally. Charlie (Shia LaBeouf), distraught at the death of his mother (Melissa Leo) and worried that he has no direction in life, decides to go to Bucharest. Then he spends the rest of the film finding different ways to pass out and wake up just when most convenient for the plot. The result feels like a fast-paced modern day fairytale, complete with a trapped princess, a deranged king(pin) and an unexplained superpower.
That’s not to say that it doesn’t work. The surreal nature of the plot is held together by some startling cinematography, helmed by Roman Vasyanov. He allows the movie to wallow in its own bizarre personality while adding some visceral images of his own.
Perhaps the strangest thing in Charlie Countryman is the dialogue, which flips from immersively naturalistic or pleasantly poetic to jarring and stilted, lurching from set piece to set piece. The scenes between LaBeouf and Leo are a highlight – they have a chemistry and immediacy to their brief moments that is unlike anything else in the film. Comedy clowns James Buckley and Rupert Grint come closest, but unfortunately they sparkle as little more than devices to give LaBeouf another reason to pass out.
Writer Matt Drake does just enough to ensure that love interest Gabi (played with a convincing accent by Evan Rachel Wood) can’t be discarded as another “manic pixie dream girl”, but the character isn’t always convincing. Her car, for instance, seems unbelievably bohemian for a regular opera cellist. It seems to be there only to coax out a joke about an American driving with a manual gearbox, which is not a great joke to begin with.
The soundtrack to the movie, compiled by Beck and Deadmono, is excellent. It does a good job of backing up the action onscreen with authentic Euro club sounds. The excitement creeps up on you with steady drum builds.
The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman is a series of moments of obvious talent, strung together by a predictable script. It’s enjoyable enough, and LaBeouf turns in a pretty good performance all round, but the promise it shows early on is never quite fulfilled.
The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman is released nationwide on 31st October 2014.
Watch the trailer for The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman here: