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Over the past couple of years, Shia LaBeouf has tried to take some more serious roles to beef up his resume, although his recent Twitter activities seem to show that this is no longer a priority for him. It must have been in 2012, though, when he took the title role in The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman. The film, which was retitled simply to just Charlie Countryman, hit Blu-ray on Tuesday.
Directed by Fredrik Bond, the film takes LaBeouf to Bucharest, a city Charlie decides to visit after his dead mother (Melissa Leo) tells him to go there in a vision. The idea is for him to go on some adventure, the perfect way to cope with your mother being taken off life support. On the plane, he sits next to a man who dies in his sleep, but not before they have a talk about his daughter, Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood). Charlie meets Gabi at the airport and there’s an almost immediate connection.
However, Charlie soon discovers that there’s a lot more to Gabi than just playing cello for the opera. He meets Nigel (Mads Mikkelsen), her estranged husband and a vicious criminal. Clearly, falling in love with Gabi and living happily ever after isn’t going to be as easy as he thought.
Bond and writer Matt Drake crafted an interesting love story, trying to take the plot in unexpected directions. But the film drags on at times, with too-long chase sequences that are essentially music videos. The mise-en-scene of the film clashes with itself, trying on one hand to be stylish and at other times gritty. Bond would be really good at directing music videos (and he does - this is his first feature film).
However, the acting is surprisingly good. Anyone impressed with Evan Rachel Wood in Mildred Pierce will like her performance here and Mads Mikkelsen gives a typically dedicated performance. LaBeouf is a bit shaky at times, but he has some good scenes with Wood.
Millenium Entertainment’s Blu-ray features 20 minutes of extra scenes (including alternate openings and closings with a really silly narration) and a 20-minute behind-the-scenes featurette. The single-layered disc also has trailers for the film and other releases by the distributor.
Charlie Countryman is not really anything to get excited about. It’s clearly made by a music video director, relying too much on flashy style to tell the story. There’s some fine acting hinted at throughout, but it gets a little bogged down by forcing itself to be artsy. Worth checking out if you’re a fan of any actor in it.