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I Hired a Contract Killer (1990)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Comedy  |  12 October 1990 (Finland)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 3,402 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 8 critic

After fifteen years' service, Henri Boulanger is made redundant from his job. Shocked, he attempts suicide, but can't go through with it, so he hires a contract killer in a seedy bar to ... See full summary »

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(story), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Margi Clarke ...
Margaret
Kenneth Colley ...
The Killer
T.R. Bowen ...
Department Head (as Trevor Bowen)
Imogen Claire ...
Secretary (as Immogen Clare)
Angela Walsh ...
Landlady
Cyril Epstein ...
Taxi Driver
Nicky Tesco ...
Pete
Charles Cork ...
Al
...
The Killer's Boss
Tex Axile ...
Barkeeper
Walter Sparrow ...
Hotel Porter
...
Frank
...
Guitar Player / Singer
Peter Graves ...
Jeweller
Edit

Storyline

After fifteen years' service, Henri Boulanger is made redundant from his job. Shocked, he attempts suicide, but can't go through with it, so he hires a contract killer in a seedy bar to murder him at some unspecified time in the future. But almost immediately he meets and falls in love with Margaret, a flower-seller, which makes Henri realise that his life has some meaning after all. But when he goes back to the bar to cancel the contract, he finds it has been demolished - and there's no way he can get in touch with the killer... Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Lej aldrig yrkesmördare i rivningskåkar! [Never hire a professional killer in a condemned building!]

Genres:

Drama | Comedy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

| | | |

Language:

|

Release Date:

12 October 1990 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

I Hired a Contract Killer  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Gross:

SEK 358,533 (Sweden)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Aki Kaurismäki:  the man who sells the sunglasses to Henri. See more »

Quotes

The Killer: [the killer finds Henri, but starts to cough blood] Cancer. I'll be gone in a few weeks time.
Henri Boulanger: I'm sorry.
The Killer: Why? It'll take me out of here.
Henri Boulanger: Don't you like it here?
The Killer: No. I'm a loser.
Henri Boulanger: But this time you win.
The Killer: That's what you think. Life is a disappointment.
[the killer shoots himself]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Emmett's Mark (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Time On My Hands
Music by Vincent Youmans
Lyrics by Harold Adamson and Mack Gordon
Performed by Billie Holiday
See more »

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User Reviews

 
lost in translation
8 September 2005 | by See all my reviews

The settings are suitably grim and grimy. Most of the cast are oddly antisocial enough to fit neatly into the Kaurismaki vision of sixties' London bleakness. Jean-Pierre Leaud is morbidly deadpan in a truly Finnish way. Kenneth Colley is a wistful hit-man par excellence. The stifling dullness of the Orwellian ministry and the heartstopping nature of abrupt redundancy are beautifully drawn. The only thing that drags this movie down from Kaurismaki's usual lofty heights of cruel farce is the awful wooden performance by Margi Clarke as the "love" interest.

I have no idea why she was chosen ahead of the other 3 billion women on the planet to play the role, but she stinks up the place something rotten. She is so grimly unconvincing that I was grinding my teeth within ten minutes of her introduction. What should have been a brilliant dark comedy was turned into a dire soap episode by an artless performance of hitherto unimaginable ineptitude. It would appear that sublime irony is not her strongpoint. Nor is holding onto a single convincing accent for the duration. From Liverpool to Roedean in an hour. Hello nosebleed.

I've seen her play her usual gobby scouser part in innumerable "gritty" TV dramas, and found her bearable at worst. But here, she kills the atmosphere stone dead with her awful timing and dismal delivery. If only her performance was a joke of the "so bad it's good variety", but it isn't. It's just lame. I'm assuming that Aki cast her on the strength of Letter to Brezhnev or his brother's Helsinki-Napoli, but rarely has anyone been so wretchedly miscast in any of his movies. Even Joe Strummer comes out smelling of roses(and beer and cigs).

A real shame, because the mood of the movie is fantastic. The props and locations are homages to a London long since redeveloped. The giant Corona bottle in the pub is a particularly neat touch. As is the fact that everyone's smoking Players and Capstans. Worth a remake with a decent actress who has some understanding of irony and understatement.


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