Sundance review: ‘The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman’
Published: January 22, 2013 07:56AM
Updated: January 22, 2013 02:49PM
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Shia LaBeouf (left) and Evan Rachel Wood star in "The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman." The movie is on the Premieres slate of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy Sundance Institute

Two stars

Midway through “The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman,” there’s a scene in which one of the characters is hit by a car. As he lays injured in the street, a little person and dog stare at him.

Does it mean anything? No. Is it an interesting visual? Yes.

Is it indicative of just how self-indulgent director Fredrik Bond’s film is? Absolutely.

“Necessary Death” is sort of a cross between a Guy Ritchie movie and “Twin Peaks.” It’s horrifically violent, bloody, loud, confusing, bordering on soft-core porn and completely full of itself. It’s nowhere near as original as it wants to be.

Hey, every crummy TV series employs the central conceit of the movie - it started at the end and then flashed back to the beginning.

Shia LaBeouf, out to prove he’s a Real Live Actor, stars in the title role. We don’t really know anything about Charlie except that his mother dies, and then she tells him to go to Bucharest. (Yes, in that order.)

He meets a girl (Evan Rachel Wood) and gets in trouble. And more trouble. And more trouble. He gets beat up. A lot.

Eventually, the plot makes sense. For the most part. But for much of the film, the audience has no more idea what’s going on than Charlie does. And it’s very, very confusing. And the scenes in which Charlie is high on ecstasy are no less lucid than the rest of it.

Certainly, there are some great images in the film. And tremendous action scenes. And there’s something to be said for making a movie to please yourself.

However, the self-indulgence overwhelms the characters. The love story fights with the thriller. The need to prove it’s art undermines the plot.

At least Bucharest looks cool.

Scott D. Pierce