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July 2012

Requiem For A Killer

cast: Mélanie Laurent, Clovis Cornillac, Tchéky Karyo, Xavier Gallais, and Christopher Stills

director: Jérôme Le Gris

90 minutes (15) 2011
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
StudioCanal DVD Region 2

RATING: 5/10
review by Jeff Young

Requiem For A Killer

Lucrèce (Mélanie Laurent, The Round Up) is a contract killer who specialises in poisonings. After murdering a man in church, using a toxic wafer during a Catholic mass ritual, she takes one last job before going into retirement from the assassination game. Requiem For A Killer (aka: Requiem pour une tueuse) is a French movie with parts filmed in English. Lucrèce (or, according to the English subtitles, Lucretia), is hired to poison British opera star Alexander Child (singer Christopher Stills in his first acting role) at an annual festival in an alpine chateau for the wealthy and boringly cultured elite. Going undercover as Anna, she infiltrates musical event by posing as a contralto in a performance of Handel's Messiah.

The spanner in the works of Anna's plan is an agent bought out of retirement, with a counter-mission, also attends the festival and intends to identify the killer and stop the assassination. There's moderate suspense while Anna is stalking her target, at night, during a fortnight of rehearsals. Efforts to ramp up tension without blowing Anna's cover are better achieved in the high pressure situation where she accidentally poisons wine tasters and has to improvise serving the antidote to the evening's dinner guests. Of course, she falls in love with the charming Alexander...

Cloak and danger intrigues develop at a pace, skirting around parody - often unintentionally, but the arrival of 'the diva' is amusingly camp: "A French conductor... they have those?" This is obviously not an urban actioner like any version of Nikita. It's a thriller where the director is clearly fixated on surface gloss - which the movie is actually very good at; while exploring the familiar routines of Hitchcockian drama - that Jérôme Le Gris fails to emulate fully.

It's not a terribly bad attempt from a first-time writer-director, but it's hardly riveting cinema, either. Perhaps, in the end, it's simply too tasteful in its approach to traditional crime drama to succeed at being truly worthwhile. It does, at least, make far better use of delectable blonde Laurent than Quentin Tarantino's turgid mess of Inglourious Basterds ever did.



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