You Kill Me
Review by Jack Foley
JOHN Dahl has directed some great indie thrillers over the years – from Red Rock West and The Last Seduction to Rounders and Road Kill – but unfortunately You Kill Me, his latest, isn’t one of them.
The film follows the fortunes of Buffalo-based hitman Frank Falenczyk (Sir Ben Kingsley) after he’s sent by his disgruntled empoyers to San Francisco in order to dry out when his alcoholism starts to hinder his ruthless efficiency.
Once there, he signs up for some counselling and meets a woman named Laurel (Tea Leoni) and a man named Tom (Luke Wilson) who provide romance and friendship respectively. But it’s only a matter of time before Frank has to return to Buffalo to settle some old scores.
The main problem with You Kill Me is that it strikes an inconsistent tone between the black comedy and drama. There are some nice touches – such as Frank’s experiences at AA meetings and the way in which he shovels snow from his home – but it never quite convinces in the same way as past “hitman in trouble comedy thrillers” such as Grosse Point Blank and The Matador did.
Kingsley also seems to be struggling with the shifts in tone and looks far more comfortable during the intense scenes, while the likes of Leoni and Wilson follow fairly predictable story paths despite attempts at kookiness (such as making Wilson’s character gay).
A strong support cast, including Bill Pullman as Frank’s West Coast minder and Dennis Farina and Philip Baker Hall, as rival Mob bosses, is also under-used when they could have brought much more to the thriller elements of the story.
Most frustrating, however, is the way that Dahl wraps things up a little too neatly, thereby depriving this comedy noir of the killer ending that might have made it more memorable. Much like its central character, You Kill Me misses more targets than it hits.
Running time: 92mins
UK DVD Release: April 14, 2008