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John Dahl is the best known director of modern noir (or "neo noir") films - his incredibly successful outings such as The Last Seduction and Red Rock West earned him a wealth of critical acclaim and allowed him to graduate to more profitable, if also less heady films such as the crackling thriller Joy Ride. However, in 2007, he made You Kill Me, a more quirky film altogether, about an alcoholic hitman who attempts to piece his life together.
Frank Falenczyk (Ben Kingsley) is a New York hitman that's got a drinking problem (notable as he hilariously drinks Vodka out of a mug neat!). When he botches an assassination, he is sent away to clean himself up in hiding by his uncle Roman Krzeminski (Philip Baker Hall). In this process, he meets Laurel Pearson (Téa Leoni), a bereaved woman with whom he forms a bond. She is the key to him getting better, but of course, it rests on him being able to fess up to his job as a hitman, and her sticking around once he tells her.
This is a clever little film that sadly never found much of a big audience, but it's well written and directed by Dahl as always. The real standout here though is Ben Kingsley in the lead role. He exudes a certain charm that makes him very likeable despite the fact that he kills people for a living. After a slew of dodgy paycheck roles, it's nice to see him in something of substance once again that plays to his strengths. Tea Leoni also shines as his love interest - he's as lovely as ever, and after a few low-profile years, it's also delightful to see her doing something again.
A wildly amusing film that is raised above its quirky premise by the comic performances from Leoni, and in particular, Kingsley. Top notch cult viewing.
You Kill Me is a 2007 comedy-drama film starring Ben Kingsley in the main role of Polish-American hitman Frank Falenczyk part of a Polish crime family in Buffalo, NY.
Business doesn't look good for the Polish mafia as they are being pushed out by the Irish and Afro-Americans. Frank loves his booze and this has started to effect his work, he's gone from being a good hitman to a liability and failure to shoot a rival boss (he fell asleep) leads his family to send him away to California in the hope of sobering him up.
He is sent to AA meetings and has a love/hate relationship with them, the acting is supreme first as a useless drunk and later when you can see him struggling with his thoughts and coming clean, changing from a stubborn poor hit man to getting his confidence back with the help of the new love of his life (Tea Leoni).
There's not a great deal of detail but the film builds up slowly and surely with no scenes failing to please with lots of authenticism. There is a lot of funny black humour, a bit of action and a very enjoyable soundtrack.
This is a really enjoyable film with some great acting, specifically Kingsley who continues to impress and show that he is one notch above any other British actor.
You Kill Me is the story of Frank, a hitman for a Polish crime family in Buffalo, NY. He is extremely good at his job, when he is sober. Frank's problem is that he is very rarely sober, in fact he is an out and out alcoholic.
When he screws up an important hit on the boss of a rival gang his own boss doesn't take too kindly to his failure. Frank is given one choice, his boss cannot trust him to do his job correctly and cannot trust him not to join a rival gang if he kicks him loose, and that is to go across the country to San Francisco, clean himself up and see if he can become the man he once was again.
He is watched over in SF by Dave (Bill Pullman) who enrols him into the local Alcoholic Anonymous chapter and gets him a job in a mortuary, seems like Frank cannot get away from dead bodies wherever he works!
Will Frank be able to rid himself of his desire for alcohol and go back to the only life he has ever known?
You Kill Me is the latest film by John Dahl (Last Seduction, Red Rock West) and is very film nourish, as is Dahls wont, but is also a very, very black comedy. In fact I cannot recall the last time I have seen anything as black as You Kill Me!
You Kill Me had a trailer that was very enticing, it certainly drew me in. A mixture of comedy and crime is my kind of thing.
It also has an absolutely stellar cast... Ben Kingsley, Tea Leoni & Luke Wilson are the headline stars but we also have the aforementioned Bill Pullman, Dennis Farina (the archetypal Italian gangster/cop playing an Irish mobster!) and Philip Baker Hall as Franks Polish boss.
Consequently the acting throughout is very good indeed and more than makes up for the occasional farcical scenes, but then YKM is, in places, almost like a gangster farce. It manages to blend gangsters, noir, comedy, black comedy and farce in a surprisingly enjoyable movie. I saw surprisingly as I would never have thought that this mix of genres would work. The trailer may have given me the impetus to go and see it but after all how often has a trailer shown every single good bit in a movie?
With You Kill Me though the combination of great acting, terrific dialogue, unusual scenes and original storyline really comes together to create a cohesive whole that is extremely enjoyable and just a little bit different from what you expect.
An example of how good Ben Kingsley is, and how has he not changed an iota since playing Ghandi all those years ago, is a scene when he is at an AA meeting, he portrays exactly how Frank is feeling with some facial reactions that say far more than any words could do. Just looking at him, knowing exactly how he feels about being there, makes you laugh as he struggles with what he wants to do and what he has to do, but then there is so much about YKM that is extremely funny, as black as it is.
The use of the main supporting actors is very smart. Luke Wilson plays his normal type of character but is used sparingly so it doesn't grate with the rest of the film. He supplies some more typical comedy moments in his meetings with Frank.
Tea Leoni is someone I have always quite liked, ever since her comedy series back in the late 90's 'The Naked Truth'. I have followed her move into movies since then and it is a shame that she hasn't made more, especially comedy wise. Nowadays she is really best known as David Duchovny's missus!
In YKM she plays a very similar character to Nora Wilde from Naked Truth, a woman looking for something in her life and thinking that maybe she has found it in Frank, of course she has no idea what he does for a living. Here she complements Ben Kingsley perfectly and for once we get a 'couple' on screen that really do mesh well, even amongst all the craziness.
You Kill Me is a little gem that 99% of people will have missed at the cinema. Hopefully though it will become a hit on DVd as word of mouth spreads. It certainly deserves a bigger audience then it will have got in cinemas. A good blend of comedy, crime and film noir doesn't come around very often (Ice Harvest being the last, miserable, attempt I can recall) and when it does it is very rarely as good as this.
If you like crime or comedy and especially black comedy then this is a movie you should certainly add to your list of films to see.