Kill Me

Kill Me


Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths

Kill Me is a mostly diverting film, serving up a subtle twist on the escaped convict and his captive formula. The almost silent Adele (Maria Dragus) is a young German teenager living on her parent’s cattle farm. Morosely depressed, she cannot quite bring herself to jump from a cliff to escape her life of hard, bovine drudgery. When middle-aged escaped prisoner Timo (Roeland Wiesksnekker) pounces on her one day, her first thoughts are not to run and tell the police who has come visiting.

She hides, feeds and agrees to help him run on one condition - once he has got to safety, he must kill her. If he doesn’t agree or doesn’t then do it, she’ll report him. He, of course, has to accept these inverted Great Expectations and so their mutual goals of escape become bound together.

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Having set out her terms, Adele offers to cut broken glass out of Timo’s shoulder. The early scene epitomises both characters’ need to exorcise the past experiences from which they’re really trying to escape and that have put them on their new journey. Ironically for the suicidal Adele, this seems to give her more control over her destiny than she has possibly ever had before. Indeed, having forced herself to be kidnapped she actually holds the real power when crunch decisions are to be made.

Writer/director Emily Atef keeps her leads moving along at a fair old pace and has covered a lot of ground by the time we’re spun into the second act. Still, the moments of satisfying personal drama and suspense are built slowly rather than thumped out with high intensity. Dragus and Wiesksnekker’s unorthodox partners on the lam (is there any other kind?) are a convincing odd couple. She is slight, naive and boyish with a silent determination, while at first he’s all grunting Magwitch physicality and violent action with a shielded sensitivity. Their personal trajectories are clear, but their initially brutal friendship takes its time to develop them sensibly.

Despite the strong performances, it is disappointing, then, to not feel totally invested in their characters. They are in peril and lives are at stake, but you just don’t care totally about them through their hours of darkness and resolution. The formula means that the latter is coming, in some shape or form, and nothing we experience on the journey really puts that in doubt.

If actions don’t ring true in on-the-run dramas you feel the set-up all the more. While Atef generally plays things straight, there’s a mid-section bump and moments of a French interlude for Timo that break the spell. One or two continuity issues don’t help, either. Nevertheless, her direction picks out some excellent landscapes for Adele and her ‘captor’ to traverse while some more shakier handheld work keeps us close to them. Cyril Atef‘s occasional, presaging soundtrack then helps lend the piece its tone of precarious hope.

By journey’s end, Kill Me builds on the expectations of its unusual premise to create a two-hander that doesn’t disappoint; it just doesn’t enthrall along the way either.

Reviewed on: 05 Oct 2012
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A suicidal teenager agrees to help a murderer on the run if he will kill her afterwards, but as they flee, he finds himself beginning to care for her.

Director: Emily Atef, Esther Bernstorff

Writer: Emily Atef

Starring: Maria Dragus, Roeland Wiesksnekker, Wolfram Koch, Christine Citti, Jean-Jérome Esposito

Year: 2012

Runtime: 91 minutes

Country: Germany, France, Switzerland

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