You Kill Me (John Dahl, 2007)

 From anonymous professional killer to anonymous alcoholic

You Kill Me is the sort of film that doesn’t even get a theatrical release in the Netherlands. It’s too small for it, and I don’t mean that in a pejorative way. Dutch cinemas are necessarily picky, and there’s a certain charm to the movie’s simple story.

Frank Falenczyk is a hit man working for the Polish mafia in Buffalo. He’s also an enormous drunk. When he starts bungling up his kills, the boss sends him to San Francisco to attend AA meetings and sober up. There he meets a sassy lady who is open of mind enough to accept his profession. But can Frank truly leave the bottle alone?

So, a simple tale, simply told. Ben Kingsley plays Frank. He’s a fine actor (whenever he’s not working for Uwe Boll) and plays his part with serious calm. There are no extravagant scenes to hurt the setting’s believability, though at one point Frank threatens a government official wearing nothing but his undies. There are some shootouts in Buffalo as the Polish gang wrestles with syndicates from other old world countries, but it’s relatively downplayed.

The trouble with a small film like You Kill Me, that skirts the line of dark comedy and alcohol abuse drama, is that there isn’t a whole lot to write about. I did like the tale of a hatchet man dealing with an everyday problem. When Frank starts telling the rest of the AA members that he kills people for a living, but can’t anymore because he drinks too much, it’s quite enjoyable. The same goes for the back and forth of Frank’s relationship with Laurel. It might all not be grand or particularly memorable, but it’s pleasant enough. It’s a trifle.

Of course, compare this one to the likes of Analyze This, an obvious inspiration, and it falls way short as both a drama and a comedy. The clumsy title doesn’t exactly help.

Roderick Leeuwenhart

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