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I Hired a Contract Killer (1990)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 12 October 1990 (Finland)
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 »

Director:

Aki Kaurismäki

Writers:

Aki Kaurismäki (story), Aki Kaurismäki (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jean-Pierre Léaud ... Henri Boulanger
Margi Clarke ... Margaret
Kenneth Colley ... Harry the Killer
T.R. Bowen T.R. Bowen ... Department Head (as Trevor Bowen)
Imogen Claire Imogen Claire ... Secretary (as Immogen Clare) (as Imogen Clare)
Angela Walsh Angela Walsh ... Landlady
Cyril Epstein Cyril Epstein ... Taxi Driver
Nicky Tesco ... Pete
Charles Cork ... Al
Michael O'Hagan ... Harry the Killer's Boss
Tex Axile Tex Axile ... Barkeeper
Walter Sparrow ... Hotel Porter
Tony Rohr ... Frank the Doctor
Joe Strummer ... 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:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Finland | Sweden | Germany | France | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 October 1990 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

I Hired a Contract Killer See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is dedicated to the memory of Michael Powell. See more »

Quotes

Margaret: [Henri has just spend a night with Margaret] What about now? You still want to die?
Henri Boulanger: No no, not anymore.
Margaret: Because you met me?
Henri Boulanger: Yes, that's made me change my mind.
Margaret: Only because of my blue eyes?
Henri Boulanger: Are they blue?
See more »

Connections

Version of Der Mann, der seinen Mörder sucht (1931) See more »

Soundtracks

Suffering With The Blues
Joe Strummer and the Astro Physicians
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An intelligent crime comedy with an intriguing premise
29 September 2006 | by MaxBorg89See all my reviews

Over the course of seven movies, Aki Kaurismäki explored various sides of Finnish life and culture, from the inexorably tragic (The Match Factory Girl) to the upright hilarious (Leningrad Cowboys Go America). For his eighth feature film, he decided to try something new: he moved to England, ditched all of his regular actors, cast his all-time idol (New wave star Jean-Pierre Lèaud) in the lead and came up with one of the most brilliant and bizarre comedies of recent years. Well, not that recent, but it's genius, I can assure you.

The story takes place in London, and begins in what seems to be a very boring office (or at least the work is boring). Because of financial difficulties, some employees have to be made redundant. For some other reason, foreigners are the first victims. In other words, Henri Boulanger (Lèaud) is out of the game. Having lost the only thing he really cared for, he thinks there's nothing left for him in life and therefore tries to kill himself. Repeatedly. And with mediocre results (hanging? The rope is tron apart; putting the head in an oven? Gas strike all over the city).

This makes Henri even more miserable. So sad, in fact, that he eventually asks a professional assassin (Kenneth Colley) to do the job. While waiting for his final hour to come, he goes to a pub. And there the unexpected happens: he meets a woman (Margi Clarke), rediscovers the joy of living and changes his mind. Pity the killer won't...

In someone else's hands, this film could have been an absurd, grotesque, unrealistic parody of gangster movies. Kaurismäki, however, keeps it simple and believable, largely thanks to the controlled performances: Colley stays cold and unaffected throughout the whole film, even when he's coughing blood, while Léaud never abandons his everyman role, doing nothing more than occasionally raise an eyebrow when things take unpredicted turns.

The film is almost perfect, weren't it for one factor: Margi Clarke. With all the talented British actresses available, Kaurismäki had to pick an unknown with no charm and a dreadful accent. This slight casting mistake prevents I Hired a Contract Killer from being an undisputed masterwork, but like all the other movies on Kaurismäki's CV, it's still worth your attention.


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