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You Kill Me (2007)

A movie directed by John Dahl

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An Out Of Focus Story But Told Very Well

  • Sep 23, 2007
Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have had success with such collaborations as 'The Chronicles of Narnia' and 'The Life and Death of Peter Sellers', proving their skills, and yet in this strange amalgam of serious versus romantic versus dark comedy they have created a series of vignettes loosely tied together and named it YOU KILL ME. The film as directed by John Dahl (aided by a superb cluster of fine actors) almost works despite itself, but in the end the audience is left wondering just what the purpose of the fragmented nature of the story was!

The story begins in Buffalo, NY where the Irish gang is coercing the Chinese gang to join forces against the rapidly diminishing Polish gang. The head man for the Polish is Roman Krzeminski (Philip Baker Hall) aided by Stef Czyprynski (Marcus Thomas) both of whom rely on their hit man Frank Falenczyk (Ben Kingsley) - an aging alcoholic who lately has had too many missed or messy deaths because of his constant state of inebriation. Roman feels the pinch as Irish gang leader Edward O'Leary (Dennis Farina) escapes being snuffed by Frank, and Frank is sent to San Francisco to dry out and shape up. In San Francisco, Frank is monitored by Dave (Bill Pullman) who finds Frank a job in a funeral home making up corpses and forces Frank into AA meetings. Gradually Frank gets sober, only to meet a woman Laurel (Téa Leoni) who is also a bit beaten by her own demons. They form a fragile and odd relationship, each for some reason feeling the need to mutually open up - a new experience for both. Frank's AA sponsor Tom (Luke Wilson) adds to the growing away from alcohol process and also aids Frank in his attraction to Laurel. Lapses into booze occur and Frank finally feels he is a failure and returns to Buffalo to resume his 'work', but to his surprise, the changes that occurred in San Francisco follow him - in a good way.

Even with the Cuisinart-blended fragments of a story, the cast is so strong that the film works. Kingsley is convincing, Leoni is superb, and the rest of the ensemble rises to the occasion with the little screen time they are given. And while the movie feels like a spoof on AA meetings and a spoof on organized crime and on funeral parlor secrets, in the end it seems like a fairly solid love story - albeit a weird one. YOU KILL ME is an acquired taste. Grady Harp, September 07

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More You Kill Me (2007 movie) reviews
review by . March 17, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Hit man Frank Falenczyk of Buffalo, NY, has a problem. It took him seven bullets to finish off one contract. With another, a woman this time, he intended to slit her throat but missed and slit her eye. He was so drunk he couldn’t do his job. Frank is an alcoholic.       Life changes for Frank (Ben Kingsley) when his small-time mob boss, Roman Krzeminski (Philip Baker Hall), orders him to go to the West Coast and dry out…or else. You Kill Me is an amusing black …
review by . September 08, 2008
One of the first things they teach aspiring screenwriters (right after the basics of Syd Field's three-act structure) is that the first five pages of your script better be fantastic or no one's going to read the next 85 to 115. Script readers are overworked and underpaid and read so many screenplays that they can generally tell in the first five pages if you've got anything interesting to say-and if you do and you don't wow them in five minutes time, then you're probably not suited for the gig anyway. …
review by . February 11, 2008
You might think that a movie about an alcoholic hit man finding love in San Francisco would be more than a ridiculous, but Ben Kingsley and Tea Leoni find a way to inject just enough believability into an unbelievable premise to make You Kill Me an excellent black comedy.    Kingsley's Frank (the go to hit man for a Polish crime family in Buffalo) is every bit as menacing as the thug he played in Sexy Beast. But Frank is more human, way, way more human! From the opening scene …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #97
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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Ben Kingsley is remarkable inYou Kill Me, a comedy-drama with an absurdist touch. The Oscar-winning British actor plays Frank Falenczyk, an alcoholic hitman from New York sent by his boss, Roman (Philip Baker Hall), to dry out in San Francisco just when a new crime lord (Dennis Farina) is moving in on Roman's turf. Frank reluctantly follows instructions and takes a Bay Area apartment, finds a part-time job as a mortician, and attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Acquiring a thoughtful sponsor and friend (Luke Wilson) through AA, Frank begins reflecting seriously about his life and responsibilities, and even becomes romantically involved with a delightfully acerbic woman (Téa Leoni).

Feeling respected and loved in the early days of his sobriety, Frank does what a lot of people do in similar situations: take stock of past mistakes and be completely honest with everyone. When he reveals to his companions and AA group that he has, at times, seriously messed up his work as a killer because of booze, the universal response is supportive with only a streak of, well, moral ambivalence. From there, the sky's the limit for a hired gun with a boost in self-esteem. You Kill Me is the kind of movie that can get an audience to suspend disbelief significantly without drawing too much attention to that fact. But that doesn't mean the film's noir roots don't show. Director John Dahl (The Last Seduction) has made You Kill Me as tough as any other movie he's ...

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Director: John Dahl
Genre: Comedy
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: October 9, 2007
Runtime: 93 minutes
Studio: Ifc
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