This one’ll kill you

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews -

YOU KILL ME ★★★ Di­rected by John Dahl. Star­ring Ben Kings­ley, Téa Leoni, Luke Wil­son, Bill Pull­man, Philip Baker Hall Club, IFI, Dublin, 90 min

WHEN, a decade and a half ago, John Dahl hit gold with Red Rock West and The Last Se­duc­tion, a few mil­lion noir ad­dicts glee­fully threw their snap-brim fe­do­ras into the air. It looked as if the genre might, af­ter all, have a life be­yond pas­tiche. Since then, Mr Dahl’s ca­reer has un­der­gone suf­fi­cient floun­der­ing to make a film as or­di­nary as You Kill Me seem like a re­turn to form.

Ben Kings­ley stars as a Pol­ishAmer­i­can hit­man who, af­ter sleep­ing through an ap­point­ment to kill a ri­val boss, is sent to San Fran­cisco for rest and re­hab. He se­cures a job work­ing in a mor­tu­ary, groans his way through a few AA meet­ings and, more through ac­ci­dent than de­sign, stum­bles into a re­la­tion­ship with wry Téa Leoni. She soon learns his two big se­crets, but seems more dis­turbed by the booz­ing than the mur­der­ing.

You Kill Me ap­pears to be­lieve it is mov­ing through un­charted ter­ri­tory. In fact, af­ter Grosse Pointe Blank, The So­pra­nos and An­a­lyse This, we are all a lit­tle too familiar with the gang­ster whose mun­dane prob­lems are un­set­tlingly sim­i­lar to our own.

The film does of­fer plea­sures. Re­sist­ing the temp­ta­tion to gorge on San Fran­cisco’s con­spic­u­ous beauty, Dahl al­lows the meaner cor­ners of the city to re­assert their street cre­den­tials. Kings­ley re­mains very good at ring­ing a kind of el­e­gant stu­pid­ity from or­di­nary vil­lainy, and the film man­ages just enough de­cent jokes to dis­tract from its hos­til­ity to mo­ti­va­tion.

All that noted, You Kill Me doesn’t add up to very much. Built around one flimsy high con­cept, the pic­ture barely man­ages to find things to do with its mod­est run­ning time and never seems con­fi­dent in its faintly larky tone. The cam­paign to re­vive noir’s moul­der­ing corpse con­tin­ues.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.