A Life of Film + [2011]

Kill List (2011)

A fantastic looking, off beat British film about hitpeople that is very much worth a watch for its skilful build-up of mystery and a very genuine sense of paranoia. It never gets paid off, and leaves the viewer frustrated on several levels, but even after a disappointing climax you can't help but appreciate the tease that preceded it.

But all that can wait. I don't often have a reason to write about the audio mix of a movie, but something really needs to be said about this one. There's quite a lot of dialogue between the two leads, and they have great chemistry - they will often interrupt one another, or start talking before the other has really finished. Basically, there's a lot of overlapping dialogue. It doesn't jump out at you, it's fairly subtle, but it's wonderful that it's there. It's a bit tiring that in every movie, every scene, there's perfectly mixed audio meticulously delivered by the actor. Films that try to be as gritty and realistic as possible in every way make zero effort when it comes to talking. No umms, uhs, or errrs. Not a misspoken syllable. Why? This line of thinking made me remember a movie I've seen a while back called Cold Weather. Most of the dialogue is improvised, and it shows, and it's great. It really adds a certain element to the movie that, if warranted, makes it much more better. I was quite surprised to find that apparently there is a subgenre of filmmaking, called mumblecore. Or something. Apparently, mumblecore films are where the characters don't speak clearly. While Pulp Fictionese can be great, and indeed a vital aspect of a movie, the fact that I have to rack my brain to come up with more examples of naturalistic dialogue is kind of sad. I mean, you're getting blown to bits by enemy soldiers/aliens/zombies, the least you could do is stutter a bit every once in a while. While I understand a writer's need to show off their poetry in profoundly written dialogue, if a movie is striving for a certain atmosphere the dialogue should reflect this also. It grinds my gears when a director is clearly at odds with what's in the script and we end up with a sort of shitty compromise in a disconnect between the screenwriter and everyone else. A movie that hit a pretty good balance is The Bourne Identity and it's sequels. The dialogue is somewhat underwritten, which is a great plus in this case, and increasingly difficult to find in mainstream cinema, and delivered in such a cool way. And 'cool way' is about as indepth as I'll get with this particular analysis, as I just realised I really haven't said anything about Kill List yet. To digress from this 300 word tangent, my main issue with Kill List is the terrible ending. There is an overarching conspiracy that will have most people salivating throughout the film, and then the last stretch completely loses it. There is also a bit of a genre detour where this tight thriller becomes a bit of a surreal horror, and it feels very out of place; but whatever, I can go with that. What I cannot abide is the illogical and open to interpretation ending, whereby the term 'open to interpretation' is synonymous with 'lazy ass writing'. I am no stranger to filmmakers laughing in my face and exclaiming 'LOL I ain't telling you just because' and that's fine; in most cases, while relatively annoying, it does in the end enhance the experience. In this case it is blatantly used as an easy out. Virtually every set up from the beginning of the movie remains unresolved and unaddressed. Unfortunately, in retrospect, it does kind of lessen the merits of the movie because I can't help but think that the writer put together this mystery, and that's all it is: a mystery. There is nothing behind the curtain, just more curtain. And if you keep on trying to peek through it, you'll eventually find the writer scratching his head, trying to give meaning to his mess. Having said all that, I do recommend the movie because the journey it takes you on, completely bogus as it might be, is still worth experiencing. And until you do reach the ending where it goes a little bit tits up, you'll find a remarkably well put together little film, that is by all means brilliant - just don't expect any catharsis.