Violent, clichéd path of self-discovery

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TO CHARLIE2 Supplied DOOMED: Evan Rachel Wood and Shia LaBeouf in character.

The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman

DIRECTOR: Fredrik Bond

CAST: Shia LaBeouf, Melissa Leo, Ion Caramitru, Evan Rachel Wood, Mads Mikkelsen, Til Schweiger, Evan Rachel Wood

CLASSIFICATION: 16 LVNSD

RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

RATING: ***

Director Fredrik Bond makes a promising film debut with this crime-drama romance that eschews strict genre classification.

Despite the frequent violence and occasional nudity, there’s plenty to appeal to the date crowd and crime-movie adherents, as well as fans of the two leads.

Introduced in voiceover by an unseen Narrator (John Hurt), Charlie Countryman (LaBeouf) is a bit of a lost soul and the death of his mother Katie (Leo) leaves him adrift. After she dies, he sees her in a vision and asks for guidance. She tells him to visit Bucharest.

Lacking any other direction in life, Charlie boards a Chicago flight for Romania and meets Victor (Caramitru), a taxi driver, en route to see his daughter.

Their newfound friendship is cut short when Victor dies on the flight and Charlie has another vision: Victor telling him to deliver a gift that he was carrying for his daughter Gabi (Wood).

Charlie agrees, finding her at the airport when he arrives and consoling her before offering to assist with the disposition of her father’s body.

Later, Charlie meets Gabi’s ex-husband Nigel (Mikkelsen), who has unfinished business with Victor over a missing video that he now plans to settle with Gabi, but she turns him away.

Later that night, Charlie’s convinced he’s falling in love with Gabi, but she remains aloof and mysterious about her relationship with Nigel.

By coincidence, Charlie learns more about Nigel and Gabi from Darko (Til Schweiger), another gangster and associate of Nigel’s who runs customer shakedowns at a nightclub. Darko is looking for the same video as Nigel, plunging Charlie into a stand-off between Gabi and the two heavies, even as the couple are discovering the first glimmers of romance.

Charlie will need to elevate his game if he’s going to help extract Gabi from her perilous situation – if she even wants to be rescued.

Many of the omniscient observations made by the Narrator can be directly deduced from the film’s plot and theme, making his rather ponderous pronouncements about love and fate seem almost ridiculously grandiose and clichéd.

With a scruffy demeanour and wide-eyed enthusiasm, LaBeouf projects an emotional recklessness that’s disarming and disconcerting to watch.

Wood blends so capably into the role, with her distinctly European bearing and Romanian-accented speech, that she easily conceals her American origins. As her violent and unpredictable ex, Mikkelsen is chillingly proficient.

Bond effectively incorporates the script’s more eccentric elements while keeping them grounded in the principal narrative. Production values are top-shelf, supported by a propulsive score and strategically incorporated special effects. – Hollywood Reporter

If you liked A Case of You or One Day, you will like this.


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