You Kill Me

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -2

Ben Kingsley, Tia Leoni, Luke Wilson, Bill Pullman. Dark comedy. Written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely. Directed by John Dahl.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Frank Falenchzyk (Ben Kingsley) is a hit-man for his Polish mob family in Buffalo, New York. But Franks got a drinking problem and when he messes up a critical assignment that puts the family business in peril, his uncle (Philip Baker Hall) sends him to San Francisco to dry out. Frank is not a touchy-feely kind of guy, but things begin looking up for him. He starts going to AA meetings and gets a job at a mortuary, where he falls for the tart-tongued Lauren (Tea Leoni) who is devoid of boundaries and clearly not mourning her step-dads sudden passing. Meanwhile, things arent going well in Buffalo where an upstart Irish gang is threatening the family business. When violence erupts, Frank is forced to return home. With an assist from Laurel, he exacts vengeance for his recently murdered uncle.

PREVIEW REVIEW: So, I get to the theater and rather than stating that I was there for the screening, I looked at the ticket taker and said, You Kill Me. She was a bit unnerved by my declaration. Guess I wasnt her type.

The films off-beat humor is darker than night, yet executed with such skill by its stars that you cant help but laugh - often. Hes an assassin who needs to sober up in order to do a better job killing people. He enters AA and eventually takes the 12-step program so seriously that he forthrightly reveals his profession to fellow addicts. They are a bit chagrined, but nonjudgmental. Remember, the story takes place in San Francisco, where they are very open-minded.

Frank doesnt mind killing people, mind you, he just feels bad when hes sloppy at it. He tells of attempting to slit a womans throat, but is so bombed that he slips and knifes her in the eye. No one should have to die like that, he tight-lipped-ly states. Eventually adhering to the 12-step program, Frank seeks to make amends by sending gift certificates to his victims families. And one of the steps has to do with acknowledging a higher being. Not being able to conceptualize the loving sacrifice of Jesus on a cross, Frank, instead, aims his prayers at the Golden Gate Bridge.

The script, the acting and direction are so droll we actually find ourselves rooting for this killer with a heart. Clever, with a low-key wittiness, the film is an appreciated exception because it doesnt garner its laughs from bodily functions or crude visuals. It does, however, base its eccentric premise on a reformed morality. You see, Frank believes the crime lies in the indifference to your calling, not the calling itself.

Video Alternatives: Each of the following was made by Ealing Studios in the 1950s and contains irreverent but understated sophisticated humor and reminds us that comedy need not come solely from anatomical and scatological graphicness. Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Lavender Hill Mob, and The Ladykillers (the 1955 version not the Tom Hanks remake of a couple of years back).

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor:
IFC Films

Summary
The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: A few crude sexual innuendos.

Obscene Language: Around 30 obscenities (mostly the f- and s-words); four or five minor expletives (damns, hells, ass).

Profanity: Three or four misuses of Gods name

Violence: A gang war shootout with several people getting shot to death. Discussion of past killings (this is played for laughs). A montage features the lead teaching his lady how to kill people (again this action is played for absurdity).

Sex: An implied sexual situation.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: A few crude sexual innuendos.

Drugs: Drinking throughout. The lead is an alcoholic fighting to stay sober.

Other: None

Running Time: 92 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults


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