The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman screened at the 63rd Berlinale is a romance with a violent twist
Rupert Grint, who we all know as Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter movies, insisted it is “refreshing to do something completely different.” The young actor was speaking at a press conference following the screening of The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman in the competition section of the 63rd Berlinale.
The film, which marks ad film maker Fredrik Bond’s feature film debut, is a quirky love story. Shia LaBeouf plays Charlie, an average Joe who lands up in Bucharest and goes through all manner of adventures there. Charlie’s mother, who dies of cancer, appears in a vision and orders Charlie to go to Bucharest. On the flight to Bucharest, Charlie’s loquacious co-passenger dies (this is one film which might not make it as an on-flight entertainment option!) and Charlie is left with the task of reaching his belongings to his daughter, Gaby.
Charlie falls in love with Gaby (Evan Rachel Wood), the minute he lays eyes on her. Unfortunately, the evil crime boss Nigel (smoothly feline Mads Mikkelsen) has already claimed her for himself. The rest of the movie has Charlie enduring all sorts of punishment and also discovering the city on paths less taken with seedy hostels — Grint plays one of his roommates who has an unfortunate accident with some dubious Viagra, strip clubs and violent gangsters.
When asked why he chose Bucharest, director Bond said: “Because the character of the city is very similar to that of Gaby and Charlie. I haven’t seen any movies come out of Bucharest. This is a love letter to the city. My heart went out to Bucharest — its underdog status. The people are tough because of their history.”
About casting Mikkelsen as Nigel, Bond said: “According to my wife, Mads is sex on legs! Mads was able to portray the heartbroken gangster. He is tough but vulnerable.”
The film, Bond said, “reminded me of a time in my life; when we go through an extreme journey. There are noir elements in the love story. I was compelled by the shift. Usually the woman falls for a man, while here it is the man who falls devotedly in love.”
The film has a narrator in John Hurt. The reason for that, Bond said, is because he “wanted to set the fairy tale tone. I wanted to work in the romantic landscape.” Charlie Countryman… has a super groovy soundtrack. Bond said: “I did a music video with Moby in 1999. I started to develop a musical style. I wanted to different tonalities and Moby created it.”
The last time we see Rupert Grint’s character, he is in a sticky situation (literally) thanks to the evil machinations of the goons. So what happens to him? “I thought of giving it a resolution. But I thought there is something romantic about keeping him alive.” Bond said Grint’s character’s fate is like one of those people you meet on your travels who drop out of sight and then pop back in some completely unexpected place. The film has this in joke about Bucharest and Budapest — “I get a lot of that,” Bond admitted. “I am from Sweden and I have people saying ‘we love your cheese.’ And I have to tell them I am Swedish not Swiss!”
(The writer was in Berlin at the invitation of Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan)