Is Shia LaBeouf trying to reinvent himself as an actor? It definitely looks like he is. After starring in more serious films like The Company You Keep (2012), by Robert Redford (not really a great film, but he played his part well) and Lawless (2012), by Australian director John Hillcoat (again a solid performance, but not that memorable), and a surprisingly magnificent role as Jerome in Nymphomaniac (2013), he now plays the lead in this strange 2013 movie called The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman.
It’s quite an unusual movie, that’s the least you could say of it. Convincing in his role of Charlie Countryman, LaBeouf’s acting is very spontaneous and for once he even looks sympathetic. The film begins with an already depressive Charlie witnessing his mother die and being told by her ghost to go to Bucharest, Romania. The reason behind this, we’re not told. But it’s the beginning of a whole new adventure.
An adventure that often seems very unbelievable as our protagonist effortlessly meets a lot of interesting people immediately after arriving in Bucharest. The subject of anonimity of a loner in a big city, explored in superb films like Simon Killer (2012) and Frances Ha (2012) (the Paris-scene!), is completely ignored in this film, but let’s not be too critical about that, the film’s main purpose still being that of telling an entertaining, funny and exciting story. And it certainly succeeds in doing that. It all just seems so honest and even though some tricks are used multiple times – slow-motion scenes are used excessively, but they work over and over again – , I really fell for it, finding myself quite enjoying this crazy movie.
With a badly written plot, the film shows itself too lazy to explain properly. There’s a scene in which the ‘bad guy’ mocks with Charlie Countryman (Shia LaBeouf), saying he’d love to explain everything to him as a real James Bond-villain, but that there’s simply no time. A scene which makes the film’s purposes all the more clear. But does it even have any purpose? When Charlie, near the end, asks his mom (her ghost) why she sent him to Bucharest, specifically, she laughs and says she got it mixed up with Budapest…
The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman is an amusing movie with good acting performances and a nice cinematography. Most of the time, it’s heading nowhere and even feels utterly pointless. But maybe that’s the film’s power. Saying no to logic, saying yes to love.