11 September 2006

Killing Zoe

This is the slowest bank-robbery movie you will ever see. It really shouldn't be described as a bank robbery movie at all, actually. The most interesting thing about it, to me, was how tedious it managed to be. A scenario that is generally highly suspenseful was transformed into a ho-hum, crawling bore. The much vaunted gore was gimmicky and not particularly shocking (though to be fair, in this age of ultra-violent movies, not much is shocking anymore, and this did come out back in 1994), and the love story had that Richard Linklater pseudo-profundity about it.

Look, I know that Julie Delpy is gorgeous, but the fact that any man she meets falls madly in love with her after she drops a few of her naive observations about the world on him is preposterous. I think the secret to the Delpy charm in most of these movies is the way in which she discusses sex from a curiously innocent, childlike perspective. In this movie, for instance, she plays a prostitute who goes all starry eyed and cuddly when a guy gives her an orgasm. She has this total naivete about her and a capacity to fall madly in love with random dudes that makes her seem very poetic and wonderful but really just annoys the hell out of me.

Anyhow. The plot of this movie is ridiculous. To sum up: Eric Stolz (who I thought had been largely forgotten after Some Kind of Wonderful, and meanwhile it turns out he's been astonishingly prolific, albeit mostly in crap movies) rolls into Paris, sleeps with a hooker (Julie Delpy) (20 minutes), then meets up with an old friend. They plan a bank robbery (6 minutes) then go on a massive drug binge (30 minutes). Then they rob the bank, where, incidentally, Julie Delpy works (40 minutes). Of course, things go wrong, treachery abounds, there's some soul searching, etc. As you can see, the movie is about evenly split between bank related activites and completely unrelated stuff. The most obnoxious is the half hour long drug binge. I guess back in 1994 it was really edgy to show people shooting up, and highly artistic to try and capture the state of mind of the characters with blurry lights and erratic camera movements. I suspect that the makers of the film were really into this idea, and needed a plot to slap on. I imagine it went something like, "Ok, so how are we gonna add some plot to a bunch of people doing random drugs?" "Well, what if they're doing all these drugs THE NIGHT BEFORE THEY ROB A BANK? Pretty cool, eh?" "Dude, yeah, that'll be awesome." "Um, so I guess we need to actually show the bank robbery too, eh?" "That's cool, so we'll make it a little longer than originally planned. Maybe we can even stretch it into a feature length film." Because really, the two portions are entirely separate units. These two pieces are bookended by Julie Delpy romance, thus attempting to form a coherent whole.

But the bank robbery itself is perhaps the most intriguing, because it's so damn boring. Upon reflection, however, this may be more realistic than many heist movies one watches. After all, if it's gonna take one guy an hour to break into the vault, and the rest are sitting upstairs guarding the hostages, then yeah, there isn't really much going on, is there? The fact that the police are waiting outside may lead to some tension, but doesn't mean that anything exciting is actually going to happen inside. Stand-offs are really pretty dull if you're not participating in them and don't much give a shit about the people who are. It makes you wonder how other movies manage to keep them lively, really.

Finally, a somewhat interesting aspect of the movie is the fact that it's set in France, and the dialogue actually does include a decent amount of French, not all of which is translated. The plot does somewhat depends on a French setting, but the bilingualism is nonetheless notable. Most of the untranslated dialogue is irrelevant, but arguably not more irrelevant than most of the dialogue in the damn movie.

In conclusion - a total flop, but an interesting one. Killing Zoe is one of those films that you end up remembering pieces of (I mainly rented it because my ex-boyfriend quoted some funny lines from it a few times and I was curious), and thinking about often, mostly because you're trying to figure out why it was so damn bad. You can do this with just about any bad movie, but the solution is not always so obvious. This one is a particularly enjoyable puzzle, but still a godawful movie.

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