Tribeca Movie Review: You Kill Me

The following movie was screened at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.

You Kill Me

You Kill Me

Spotlight, Narrative

2007, U.S.A.

Dir: John Dahl

What happens when you get an alcoholic hit man who can't seem to perform his duties well enough? You get the premise to You Kill Me, a moronic "indie" comedy disguised as a smart drama, about what, exactly, is not easily discernable. Ben Kingsley plays Frank. Frank is a killer. Frank is a man who knows no boundaries. Frank is bad at his job. Its quite unfortunate to see a genius actor such as Ben Kingsley be demoted to the lackluster position of portraying such a one-dimensional character.

Frank's Polish family, who are also his bosses, are fed up with his misgivings and want him to shape up. They get him a ticket out of Buffalo, and straight to San Francisco. Why San Francisco? No idea. It probably just sounded nice. There, Frank must get sober, attend AA meetings, and keep from falling apart. With distracting secondary characters played by Luke Wilson and Bill Pullman, Frank has his work cut out for him. Pullman's character gets him a job at a funeral home, where Frank meets and eventually hooks up with a client whose dead stepfather he did the makeup for. The client, played by Téa Leoni, falls head over heels for the tough Frank and she helps him comes to grips with his problem.

The serious subject matter of alcoholism is treated here with such triviality and ignorance, that it boundaries on the disrespectful. The AA meetings are mocked and abused, as we see Frank only fleetingly enter them, and only to serve as mere humorous scenes. No real development of the Frank character can be seen in these instances. Having such a poorly developed protagonist, one can only expect the secondary characters to be even more lacking. And they are. They are truly unnecessary and frivolous.

With sappy dialogue and unbearable moments of feigned sincerity, Frank half-asses his way through his recovery. And lets not forget his old chums back in Buffalo, having to deal with the Irish gangs encroaching upon their territory. Their excuse? That Frank is not there to take out their competitors; he is busy getting help. So all it takes is one hit man to rule the underworld? Interesting. Sounds a bit too easy.

Trying to get your head through all the holes in this picture will give you headaches. Suspension of disbelief is one thing, but completely opting for the absurd when a certain naturalness is aimed at just won't stand. Do yourself a favor and cruise past this one.

/Film Rating: 1 out of 10