Sundance Review: Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman


The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman is so forgettable a film that I started forgetting the plot while watching. Never to fear, all I had to do was recall the dozens of other films that cling to their genre tropes as tightly as this one. Even better, all I had to do was recall one of those operatic R&B music videos from the ’90s (think: R. Kelly) to recall the plot, which goes something like: Guy meets girl, girl has mafia boyfriend, guy insists on having a relationship, and then bad things happen to guy. At least, give me a good slow jam!

The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman
Director: Fredrik Bond
Rating: NR
Country: USA
Release Date: September 13, 2013

Once I stopped marveling at how horrendous it must be for Shia LaBeouf to sit under the hot lights on set with an unholy amount of hair gel, I started following Charlie Countryman‘s plot and unfollowing it, like you do when a friend tells the same story you heard last night to another friend. Keenly aware of its pedestrian plot, the film takes bold strides in peppering its formulaic story with personality: an ambulance driver continues to smoke his hash pipe after an accident, LaBeouf talks to ghosts, and worst of all the film is narrated in the style of a fairy tale — “Dear ladies and gentlemen” he keeps repeating, to my chagrin.

When the camera isn’t focusing on LaBeouf’s narcotic character sulking or jumping around animatedly (because he’s now in love, dear ladies and gentlemen), some alright stuff happens. You get to see Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) almost overdose on Viagra, that hyperactive pervert from The Inbetweeners (James Buckley) makes an appearance, Evan Rachel Wood gets naked, a cool chase happens near the end, and the natural born Bond villains Mads Mikkelsen and Til Schweiger are entertaining. If the end feels particurarly powerful, it’s only because M83’s “Intro” is playing. A song that is a film unto itself, one far more epic, nuanced, and emotional than this forgetable holiday in Romania.