You Kill Me
I went to see this movie alone on a Sunday in the middle of the afternoon. It was a beautiful day and everyone seemed to be in a good mood. I paid eleven bucks for my ticket, then went up many levels in the huge theater. You Kill Me was on playing on the twenty-fourth screen, out of twenty-five.
I like seeing movies alone but if my girlfriend were around I would have asked her to come. But she’s in California visiting family and friends and she hates me right now anyway. I’ve been trying to do and say the right things but I’ve been unhappy lately and quite self-absorbed. Relationships are complicated. The world is overwhelming. It’s hard being alive. Karla gets annoyed when I say those things but I’m not trying to be dramatic. I really believe those things to be true.
I took my seat in the theater. I was early. I tried reading but the screen was blasting loud ads. I watched the ads and they sickened me. I read a few paragraphs of my book over and over. Finally the lights dimmed. The previews began. People kept coming into the theater. A woman sat next to me. She knocked me with her bag and said sorry. A moment later another woman came and sat in the empty seat to my right. The coming attractions looked okay. I saw the one for the new Noah Baumbach film. Noah’s dad, Jonathan, was my teacher in grad school and I’d seen Jonathan just a few days before. I hadn’t realized Jack Black was in Noah’s movie. Not a promising sign, in my opinion.
The movie began. There was Ben Kingsley, drinking vodka straight from the bottle and shoveling snow. The woman next to me was moving all around, digging in her bag for something. Finally she produced a little tube of lotion and rubbed it around on either her feet or her ankles. Then she settled down.
Ben Kingsley plays Frank, an alcoholic hit man. He’s supposed to kill a mobster played by Dennis Farina but he botches the job, passes out in his car. His boss Roman (Philip Baker Hall) is upset and sends him to the Bay Area to dry out. Bill Pullman is there. He plays a sketchy real-estate agent/go-to guy named Dave. I was happy to see Pullman. I’ve always liked him and he’s good in this movie.
Around this time the woman to my left began snoring lightly. I looked at her. She snored once loudly, then jolted awake. We made eye contact for a second before I could look away.
Tea Leoni plays Laurel, a woman Frank meets at the funeral home where he works prepping bodies. Laurel is a high-powered corporate person and she and Frank hit it off. They go on a date. Leoni is good. I was surprised. I know she used to be on TV but I’ve forgotten the show.
Pretty soon Luke Wilson shows up as a gay AA guy. It’s not much of a part. I like Luke Wilson but I don’t know why. He’s been coasting for a while. Same thing with Owen. Mostly, at this point, they just seem like they’d be cool guys to hang out with. Luke doesn’t do much here. He’s handsome, though. Too handsome to be working as a toll-collector on the Golden Gate Bridge, which is what the filmmakers have him doing.
The main problem with You Kill Me, billed as a comedy, is that the laugh lines aren’t funny. I didn’t laugh out loud once. The dialogue is okay, some of it really pops, it’s just not ever funny. The whole middle part of the movie feels sluggish. It devolves into an unconvincing admixture of noir-thriller and dark romantic comedy. Laurel learns what Frank does for a living but instead of revulsion she feels excitation. There’s a goofy sequence where Frank shows her some killing moves. They slash a watermelon together. I thought the scene was just thrown in for a goof but I should’ve known better. Later Laurel has to use her new moves. It’s not a credible transformation.
The movie ended. I forgot a lot of it while it was happening. If you happen to see it, let me know if that’s really Steve Buscemi playing a corpse on the table at the funeral home. I could swear it was.