The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman
- James Mottram
- 20 January 2014
Fredrik Bond's Romanian-set thriller is a pretentious mess, starring Shia LaBeouf
Shia LaBeouf is rarely out of the headlines at the moment, whether it’s being caught for plagiarising a Daniel Clowes short story and skywriting his apology, sending pictures of his penis to Lars Von Trier for the forthcoming Nymphomaniac, or refusing to wash on the set of the currently shooting war movie Fury. Directed by debut feature filmmaker Fredrik Bond, this Romanian-set thriller saw more LaBeouf antics – as he took LSD for one club scene alongside British actors Rupert Grint and James Buckley.
Still, dropping acid must be far more entertaining than watching this pretentious mess, in which LaBeouf’s Charlie heads to Bucharest after the death of his mother (Melissa Leo). On the plane, an elderly Romanian dies next to him, ultimately leading the impressionable Charlie to the man’s vivacious cellist daughter Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood). Falling head over heels with her, Charlie soon angers her gangster husband – a quick-tempered brute called, er, Nigel (Mads Mikkelsen).
As hinted by the title and the film’s opening scene – with a beaten and bloody Charlie hanging upside down over a dam – it’s not likely to end well for LaBeouf’s character. But that’s only a minor problem in a film that plays like an assault on the senses. It’s overly stylised, overly narrated and overly scored (your ears will take a battering from M83 and Sigur Rós), and it comes as no surprise to learn that Bond’s background saw him shooting music promos.
Paced at a breakneck speed – LaBeouf seems to spend most of the film running in one direction or another – Bond’s movie rarely stops to breathe. There are some amusing moments – mostly involving Grint and Buckley’s buffoonish pill-popping backpackers – but for the most part, it feels ill-conceived and ugly. LaBeouf gives his all, but sometimes energy and effort aren’t enough. This is one film that needs to go straight back to the drawing board.
Limited release from Fri 14 Feb.