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Quirky British comedy - 'Burn After Reading' meets 'The American',
This review is from: Dead In France [DVD] (DVD)
This is not your average British film: the DVD box may say 'Tarantino meets Ritchie' but it's more 'Burn After Reading' mixed with the more earnest 'The American', a world populated with shady Brits running riot in the South of France, each pursuing their own hopes and dreams and their fates colliding one sunny day in Cannes.
The story is eclectic and original, although a variation on a theme: after a long career killing people, obsessive-compulsive hitman Charles decides to retire to the South of France to find a wife and a yacht but with zero experience of either as he suffers from a brand of social autism. Nevertheless, he hires coquettish Lisa to provide him with certain 'services' in a wonderfully-scripted scene, and, after claiming a £2m retirement fund from another retired hitman whom Charles makes strip naked and stand in a posh Cannes pool, embarrassment covered only by a bobbing rubber duck, Charles drives around France with the money in the boot of his car looking to buy a yacht. Unfortunately, Charles's day starts becoming a nightmare as the money is taken from right under his nose by two Londoners, brothers Simon and Ray who don't actually look anything like each other ('same mum, different dads' apparently). The mess Charles finds himself in is exacerbated by the arrival of rival hitwoman Clancy who has probably by far the most violent introduction of the whole film, and who follows Charles to France as she wants money from him that she believes she is owed and she wants it before Charles retires.
As one of the taglines states: 'things are going to get messy', and they do with at least as much impact as the moment that Clooney shoots Pitt in the wardrobe in the Coen's 'Burn After Reading': there is a lot of violence, bad language and a lovely over-the-top sex scene involving Lisa and her punk, Mohawk-sporting boyfriend Denny who also decides to rip off Charles, steal one of his guns from a drawer and use it to clobber the local French with, and their cats.
The film is mainly in black and white which is a great choice for something set in and around the South of France: things look very fresh and clear and bright: the film knowingly sends up the film noir crime genre without any winks to camera: the cast all manage to play it dead straight, which must have been difficult as you can see from the extensive gag reel that comes with the film along with a couple of the trailers including the original and red-bands plus some deleted scenes.
None of the actors in this is well-known, but the writing is excellent, the direction clever, the cinematography very film-noir yet also modern and the music is very nice, probably the most Tarantino-like thing in the film. It is a breath of fresh air to find a comedy like this that is quite difficult to pigeonhole, and actually I'd like to see more films like this. It's very British for all the right reasons. Four solid stars.