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  You Kill Me

Starring: Ben Kingsley, Tea Leoni, Luke Wilson, Dennis Farina, Philip Baker Hall

Directed by: John Dahl

Produced by: Al Corley, Bart Rosenblatt, Eugene Musso, Carol Baum, Mike Marcus, et. al

Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

Distributor: IFC Films


     In a strange way, John Dahl’s You Kill Me resembles what a painstakingly extended version of one of the short-films in Jim Jarmusch’s 2003 effort, Coffee and Cigarettes, might’ve turned out like. Similarities between the two pictures are eerily numerous: they’re both about clever people dealing with substance-addiction as they meanwhile spout out acerbically constructed dialogue pertaining to their quirky lives. But whereas no one segment of Coffee and Cigarettes lasted more than ten minutes—and this length was pushing it several instances—You Kill Me drones on for nearly ninety minutes.

     The movie practically drowns in its own cleverness by the time it reaches its second act; what opens up as a gimmicky showcase for some fine acting quickly turns into a cloyingly annoying melodrama that the casual viewer will feel tempted to get up and scream “Enough already!” at as it occupies the screen. Ben Kingsley plays Frank, a Buffalo, New York-based hit-man who develops a chronic drinking problem that begins to interfere with his work. His boss sends him to San Francisco to clean up his act, where he meets trusted Alcoholics Anonymous-Member Tom (Luke Wilson) and Love Interest Laurel (Tea Leoni). The trio’s journeys seem pleasant enough on the surface, but once we realize that they aren’t headed anywhere and exist in a land of pure inconsequence, the “How clever are we!?” attitude of writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s script becomes overbearing and drab.

     In the end, You Kill Me does have a bit to say about friendships and addictions, but this commentary gets lost in the shuffle of the picture’s grander narrative relentlessness. Frank is a quirky and pleasant character, but Markus and McFeely make the mistake of confusing these traits for ones that actually have the ability to interest and engage the audience. Had ‘ol Jim Jarmusch waited three years to release Coffee and Cigarettes, maybe he would have been able to team up with director Dahl and stick alcoholic Frank into that film instead of this one. As it stands, Jarmusch will just have to watch the character’s misadventures in You Kill Me alongside the rest of us casual moviegoers, rolling his eyes at the misconstrued self-importance of the material.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 8.3.2007

Screened on: 8.1.2007 at the UltraStar Flower Hill 4 in Del Mar, CA.


You Kill Me is rated R and runs 92 minutes.

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