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An unusual movie this one: a socially dysfunctional hit-man called
Charles (Brian Levine) decides to retire to Cannes and has best laid
plans train-wrecked by the other Brits out in the sun. Levine plays
straight-man to very funny Essex-girl Lisa (Celia Muir) and we're not
sure to begin with what Charles is paying her for (it's a great early
scene ). Charles likes her but doesn't know she's got a nasty mo-hawked
tattooed squeeze from Liverpool (played by Denny - Darren Bransford).
They try to scam Charles by renting out his Cannes house to French
families and pocketing the proceeds. Charles has all of his savings
stolen by a couple of con-men (Lee Cheney and James Privett) who are
like a Cockney double-act and don't realize Charles is going to hunt
them down to get back his money. Charles's big error is to let his
younger rival Clancy (played by Kate Loustau) know he's retiring which
makes Clancy come out to France to look for Charles and his money.
It says on the DVD that it's like Lock Stock or Tarantino but it's actually not really like them that much although there are shades of Tarantino in the cool funky soundtrack (Adam Langston): Maybe there's something a bit Coen brothers about it. What it is is budget black and white and truly original. It's also very funny - like one of the reviews says 'it makes you laugh your ass off.' Levine and McManus put together a nice script which only wobbles as everything unwinds, but the final twists are cool and surprising. There's one massive flashback scene which contains as much death and destruction as some action movies plus anyone with a cat or a hatred of profanity better think twice about watching this.
So Kris McManus has directed, shot and edited a smart, nicely-set-up rampage through a lovely part of the world with an unknown cast who do a smooth job.
It's real Brit wit. And the black and white doesn't hurt either.
I had the pleasure of watching this film recently and it's a gem. A low
budget British comedy-thriller that belies the production budget with
flair from everybody concerned. Filmed virtually all in black and
white, the camera work is excellent (particularly of the locations)
matched by the acting which actually does make you give a damn about
the characters. there are one or two snippets of wooden delivery by one
character in particular, but it actually enhances that character's
seeming inability to relate to 'ordinary people' in a social setting.
I have given it maximum rating because productions like this truly not only deserve it...but need it, lest they remain criminally overlooked.
This black and white film is set on the Cote d'Azur where a hit-man is
about to retire. He has one last job and that's it for him. Whilst he
goes off to end his career he leaves behind Lisa at his house. Lisa's
nutter of a boyfriend turns up and it turns out that Lisa and boyfriend
have a scam going. That's one story thread.
When the hit-man, Charles, completes his contract, he has the chance to kill an old rival, but takes several million instead. It turns out the old rival wants revenge. That's another thread.
Then there's a young woman who's also an rival and, when she hears that Charles is retiring, she rushes out to France to take revenge on him, or get his money, or something. That's a third thread.
Charles fancies owning a yacht as part of his retirement and that's when two brothers attempt to steal his car. Instead of taking the car, they take the money, and that's the final thread.
All these threads interweave during the rest of the film as the action slowly centres on Charles' French house. Although the number of coincidences is too extreme to be believable, if you're forgiving enough, then the story trundles along and makes some sense.
There's a good amount of violence and death in this film, mostly at the beginning and end, but, being in black and white, the violence is toned down enough to be suitably comical when needed. And this film is meant to be funny. Sure, there are some funny scenes, but mostly the humour misses the spot. I put that down to the way that Charles is played; you don't get any sense of him as a person. He's too wooden, soulless, and with too-perfect diction to be believable as a person, any sort of person.
Other reviews say that Charles is socially challenged. In fact, he's just germaphobic, which does lead to my favourite dialogue in the film: "I'll even clean up the body. I've got hydrochloric acid in the basement, tonnes of it." "What brand?" Sadly though, almost nothing is made of this 'flaw' and Charles is just a normal person for the rest of the film. Everybody else is also fairly normal, apart from the Mohawk nutter boyfriend, who's just a bit over the top, but has a good scene with a gun and a cat.
There's nothing really wrong with this film, but it just doesn't quite work. The pace is a little slow in places, the coincidences too extreme, some of the timing of events doesn't work, sometimes the acting is too dry to be effective, and there's just not enough wit and intelligence on display.
This is one of those films where you want to do a remake, with just a few tweaks, and you KNOW you'd turn it into a great film. So near, and yet so far.
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