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Although considered to be a dark comedy, Dead by Monday never quite reaches
the lightless corners you hope it will. The thread of loss is sewn through
the film; lovers, husband, agent, ability to write and eventually the will
to live. While the film steers clear of feeding us the sickly sweet syrup
you find dripped over most films from that part of the world, there are few
surprises and the ending is a tad predictable. That said though, the
direction flows smoothly and Curt Truninger's choice of leads is spot on.
Helen Baxendale is one of many bright British stars as is Tim Dutton and
they both shine in their turns as Julie and Alex.
The idea that two Brits may meet in a film must somehow appear unbelievable as Helen Baxendale is forced to deliver her lines with a lip-twisting Canadian accent, and while passable, just seems unnecessary.
So the story of sad boy meets sad girl, with a twist and a road trip is worth watching and an applaudable effort for second-time-out director Curt Truninger.
Swiss filmmaker Curt Truninger is clearly no sentimentalist. His latest film DEAD BY MONDAY although ostensibly a romantic comedy, can hardly be called traditional fare with its two protagonists brought together by a suicide pact. With a witty script by Myra Fried, Truninger deftly confounds our expectations by keeping his two charming lead actors emotionally distant for most of the film. Eschewing the coy American standard for this genre, we are instead provided with the absurd and alienating environment of southern Ontario. The success of such a daring endeavour logically rests on the shoulders of its stars and Truninger has cast a pair of superb comic performers especially relative unknown Tim Dutton, whose charisma marks him for major leading man status. Helen Baxendale does equally well in her flakier and slightly less sympathetic role. The film is further distinguished by the subtle painterly cinematography of Martin Fuhrer, particularly in the title sequence that cleverly combines a burnished dawn tableau with a cheeky score by Mark Suozzo. Ultimately though it all comes down to chemistry, and on that score DEAD BY MONDAY is pure champagne and orange juice.
I saw 'Weekend Da Suicidio' (original title 'Dead By Monday' a few years ago in Alassio, Italy with my Italian partner, who had to do some translation for me during the film of this wonderful dark comedy of two people who try to commit suicide. On the poster in front of the cinema, of this for me unknown film, I discovered the name of the great Canadian stage actor Donald Carrier whom I have seen at the Stratford Festival several times. Therefore, I had to go and see this film. And I wasn't disappointed. Although Donald Carrier had only a small part, I was thrilled to discover British actor Tim Dutton whom I have briefly admired in 'Ally McBeal'. And it was wonderful to see my hometown Toronto in a European Indie film. After the film I asked myself why is Tim Dutton not a star? He looks a bit like Hugh Grant, but more manly. Probably his agent is as blind to his talent as the one in the film, when she dumps Alex (Tim Dutton) when he does not succeed with his second novel. I can't even find his picture on the IMDb.com. I was happy to see the film finally on screen in Toronto, after I read a great review in the 'The National Post' by Chris Knight. The only criticism of 'Dead By Monday' might be that the great humour sometimes does not come out of the characters, but was just a very clever, funny line. And there are very many clever funny lines indeed. 'Dead By Monday' is a very unique comedy, well directed and with wonderful actors...and last but not least, three songs of one of my favorite CD's of Chumbawamba's little known album 'SHHH'.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I couldn't help being charmed by this very predictable, yet warm-hearted little movie about a weary writer (Tim Dutton), a heartbroken pastry chef (Helen Baxendale, Emily on "Friends") and the eventful story of their suicide pact. Think "Serendipity" meets "Wilbur wants to kill himself". Swiss-made, set in Canada, with an all-English cast and written by sometime Muppet puppeteer Myra Fried, "Dead by Monday" sounds so unlikely I feel grateful it even exists. It has only one drawback, probably more due to miscasting than flawed script: While there is never any doubt that Alex is, pun intended, dead serious about killing himself, why on earth would Julie want to go? True, finding out about her dead husband's adultery is a bit of a shock, but she comes across as altogether too cheerful for us to believe she would actually go through with the pact. She just isn't the type. Oh, and shame on costume designer Steven Wright for dressing lovely Helen in over-sized jumpers and baggy ankle-length skirts. All the more brightly does she shine in the red ball gown and crazy Björk hairdo she wears to the dinner party. Guest appearances by Guylaine St-Onge as a slutty college professor, and by director Curt Truninger as a Swiss tourist way out of his water.
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