Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Killing Zoe 7/10

Killing Zoe (R) 1994
Reviewer’s Tilt (9)
Special DVD Features worth a look- None

This debut film by Director Roger Avary won him best film awards at Italy's MystFest and Japan's Yubari International Film Festival as well as a Prix Tres Special award at Cannes. Often compared to buddy Quenten Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, Killing Zoe does not include the complex story lines and jumbled temporal flow of a true breakneck film. This is not a criticism, merely a description. Killing Zoe is a manic French bank heist; a kind of Rififi on acid. Like many breaknecks, however, Killing Zoe revolves around good people involved in bad situations. Zed (Eric Stoltz) is an American safecracker who meets up with the captivating French prostitute Zoe (Julie Delphi). Although Zed is a criminal, he does not want to actual hurt anyone and although Zoe is a prostitute, she only turns tricks occasionally to pay her way through art school. While this “good in the bad” may be a little hard to swallow, it is easy to understand that this is how these characters actually perceive themselves, how everyone perceives themselves.

Even the worst of us rationalize our actions as a product of circumstance. In the film, Zed travels to Paris to meet up with his childhood criminal cohort Eric (Jean-Hugues Anglade) to pull off a Bastille Day bank heist. Zed, Eric and a miscreant mob of bank robbers, including Spandau Ballet's Gary Kemp, spend the first half of the film planning the robbery. This “planning” involves ten minutes of pouring over bank blueprints and several days of pushing the envelope of human opiate toxicity. Although this half of the film introduces the characters, and sets up their relationships, it is far too long and moves at an excruciatingly slow pace.

Fortunately, the second half of the film pushes the pedal to the metal, with incredible pacing, great presence and a refreshing lack of flaws. Not for the squeamish, the final half of the film expertly weaves action, violence, suspense, drama and dark humor into an impressive tapestry. The story is tense, the acting superb and the action lively. If you can stay awake past the halfway point, and do not mind a little salacious violence, Killing Zoe has a lot to offer.

Format: Color, Widescreen Anamorphic, Closed captioned.
Sound: (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
Extras: Cast and crew info, production notes, trailer.


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