2007 Dark Comedy
STARRING Ben Kingsley, Tea Leoni, Luke Wilson, Phillip Baker Hall, Dennis Farina
WRITTEN BYChristopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
DIRECTED BY John Dahl
A weird experience is it to watch "You Kill Me". No flashy star, no provocative visuals of blood or anything remotely disgusting, no torrid erotic scene, and no true "action". Yet it is one of the more enjoyable and entertaining films I've seen this year.
The dark comedy follows hitman Frank Falencsyk (Sir Ben Kingsley), an enforcer for a low-level mob gang in Buffalo (Yes, Buffallo...I didn't know they had mobsters there either...). When Frank sleeps through a crucial hit because of his bad drinking habit, he has no choice but to go away for a while, and join the AA, ultimately finding himself on a strange journey to redemption.
The comedy of the film doesn't so much provoke belly laughs as it does a certain awe at the clever writing and unusual acting. A drunk hitman attending AA meetings could easily make a film tilt into either tasteless farce or just plain creepy fare. But casting makes the film work on a very special level, one where you actually hope Frank will achieve his goal of sobriety in order to go back to killing people. A level where you're a drawn to the hero's journey for not knowing where he'll actually end up. It takes quite an actor to pull that one off. As for the love interest, never does the straight-faced Tea Leoni display the usual damsel-in-distress syndrome that so many other actresses would have, but instead acts like a genuine and natural new girlfriend, one who takes interest in her man's job and talents. Kudos as well to Luke Wilson, who brings his usual but lovable nice-guy-next-door charisma, and Bill Pullman in a surprisingly nuanced turn for a part normally reserved to character actors such as Christopher Lloyd.
The short running-time is quite perfect to avoid a boring and over-drawn movie, but it still feels like some of the situations and supporting characters could've benefitted a little bit more development. As if the writers were focusding and moving the script along, sacrificing a little research and depth along the way. Still, Sir Ben makes you forget about all that with his incredible reactions to some priceless moments.
You Kill Me is far from the kind of entertainment mass audiences are usually looking for, but it's still surprisingly accessible for such a storyline and characters. It ultimately feels like a David Mammet movie written by Aaron Sorkin, with a more amateurish take. A romantic comedy for GUYS, if you will...