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YOU KILL ME

Director: JOHN DAHL

U.S.A. • 2007 • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 92 MIN


JOHN DAHL, THE MAN RESPONSIBLE FOR SUCH MODERN NEO-NOIR GEMS AS ‘KILL ME AGAIN’, ‘RED ROCK WEST’ AND THE GLORIOUSLY AMORAL ‘THE LAST SEDUCTION’, IS BACK ON SOMETHING LIKE HIS TOP FORM WITH THIS APPROPRIATELY TITLED BLACK COMEDY ABOUT A HIT MAN WITH AN ALCOHOL PROBLEM.

Ben Kingsley plays Frank Falanczyk, chief killer for a Polish-American mob family involved in a turf war with an encroaching Irish gang in Buffalo. Ordered by his ageing boss (Philip Baker Hall) to murder chief rival O’Leary (Dennis Farina), Frank literally falls asleep on the job and is despatched to San Francisco to clean up his act. Frank’s new handler is Dave (Bill Pullman), a sleazy estate agent who has found his charge a part-time job in a funeral parlour to keep him occupied between AA meetings. Surprisingly adept at making corpses look good, Frank meets the beautiful and acerbic Laurel (Tea Leoni) at the funeral parlour, and a tentative romance blossoms.

The gruesome humour and oddball characters created by scriptwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely are ideally suited to Dahl’s off-kilter approach to genre film-making. ‘You Kill Me’ actually works better as a screwball comedy than a crime caper. Indeed, as in ‘The Last Seduction’, it’s this cheerful sense of irresponsibility that makes the movie such an enjoyable guilty pleasure and allows it to indulge so many jokes about murder, alcoholism, embalming and ethnic stereotypes. It takes good actors to carry off this kind of trick, and Dahl’s film is blessed with excellent turns by Kingsley and Leoni, who play deadpan straight regardless of how absurd the plot becomes.—Peter Walsh.

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