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Sundance '13 Review: THE NECESSARY DEATH OF CHARLIE COUNTRYMAN Packs A Punch

The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman

Director: Fredrick Bond

Screenwriter: Matt Drake

Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, Mads Mikkelsen, Til Schweiger, Rupert Grint

Official Synopsis: Obeying the last wish of his deceased mother, young American Charlie travels to Eastern Europe with no plans. He lands in a truly unknown place—wilder, weirder, and more foreign than he could have ever imagined. Committed to spontaneous, explosive, and instinctive acts, Charlie now finds himself pursuing an equally lost soul named Gabi, a mysterious Romanian woman unable to shake her dark, violent past.

Performances

As a fan of Shia LaBeouf, I'm glad to see him continuing to operate in more independent territory and avoiding major studio projects. After his solid work in Lawless and his strong work here, it seems the indie scene has revitalized him creatively, and with a movie with Lars Von Trier on the way, the future continues to provide interesting opportunities for the former Disney Channel actor. Evan Rachel Wood is alluring as the object of his affection, pulling off a convincing Romanian accent while her mysterious personality works some magic on LaBeouf's character. Rupert Grint shows up in a small comedic role, and let's just say his female Harry Potter fans will probably find his brief screentime amusing. But the true standouts were the movie's villains, memorably played by Mads Mikkelsen and Til Schweiger. These guys seem to really relish playing these ruthless gangsters, and they were perfectly cast as dudes who don't think twice about killing innocent people or using crazy glue as a bonding agent to hold two prisoners together.

Story and Direction

The film is an extremely impressive debut for Fredrick Bond, who gives us a stylish and immersive trip across the world and an interesting and unconventional love story. While the movie unfortunately has some pacing issues (it slows way down while building the budding romance), its action sequences are fantastic. There's a particularly inspired chase sequence in the middle of the movie, complete with slow motion segments, that had our audience applauding mid-film, and aside from a few weird bits here and there (some supernatural elements, the standard "ecstacy in a club" scene), Bond does a great job of pulling things together in a cohesive and compelling way.

This love story starts out very slowly as it sets up Charlie's visit to Bucharest and his eventual relationship with Gabi, but it packs a serious punch when he encounters the gangsters who have Gabi snared in their web. A quasi-cheesy MacGuffin is introduced about halfway through, but if you're hooked by that point, you're aware of what kind of movie you're in for, and it's easy to go along and enjoy the rest of the ride.

Similar To

Think a less nerdy Scott Pilgrim against the worst Evil Ex of all time, and instead of pop-infused computer graphics, you get contemplative drama and brutal, bone-crunching violence.

Chances You'll See It In Theaters

This one should actually hit theaters later in 2013, so if you're a LaBeouf fan (or would like to see him get his ass absolutely handed to him multiple times), check this one out.

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