You Kill Me

Dir: John Dahl
Star: Ben Kingsley, Téa Leoni, Luke Wilson, Philip Baker Hall

After falling into a drunken stupor and missing the target, hit-man Frank Falenczyk (Kingsley) is exiled from Buffalo to San Francisco to get his act together. There he meets Laurel (Leoni), joins AA and tries to come to terms with his life. However, back in the East and without his main enforcer, his Polish boss (Hall) is finding himself being slowly squeezed out by the local Irish hoods. As you can probably tell, this is a comedy. No, really: a dark one, but it's these aspects that you'll remember most, as well as Kingsley's spot-on performance, which takes an alcoholic psychopath and makes him a sympathetic character. Of course, for 90% of the movie, we don't actually see him kill anyone, which helps in this area; he's also clearly trying so hard to sort himself out, that it's endearing: he sends gift vouchers to the next-of-kin of those whose deaths he botched, and takes a menial job, appropriately enough in a funeral home.

Actually, despite the darkness of the subject matter, the tone is dry and frothy; credit writers Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely for that. I'm not quite sure Alcoholics Anonymous is quite so tolerant of members who cheerfully confess within its walls to mass murder - I think the writers confused AA with the Catholic Church there - but it's a relatively minor flaw in a crisp script. Kingsley gets solid support from Wilson as his mentor, and Leoni is also decent as the damaged angel who becomes Frank's reason to get himself together. If not perhaps quite what we were expecting [the blurb says Frank finds one of his victims in the morgue. Er, no...], the result is still entertaining and enjoyable.

[June 2008]

Sexy Beast
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