When you’ve written and directed Chopper and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford you’ve got a lot to live up to; and so Andrew Dominik stepped up to the mark with Killing Them Softly, a film noir that is really very, very good.
Killing Them Softly is a story about opportunity in an America that’s down on its economic knees. Squirrel, played by Vincent Curatola, sees a way of making money in a ‘what can possibly go wrong’ moment; he decides to find two guys to hit a card game that has been hit before.
The person responsible for hitting the game previously was Ray Liotta’s character who also owned up to the job. Squirrel figures: hit it again and the finger will be pointed at Liotta and they’ll get away scot free.
The movie is very assuredly directed by Dominik but it has two soundtracks running almost constantly over it. One plays some good old fashion music which gives, along with Dominik’s directing style, the film a Tarantino-esq feel. The other soundtrack is of Presidents Bush and Obama giving various speeches about the economy – at the beginning this is all nice and meaningful but after a while it starts to grate as I felt like I was being treated like an idiot that constantly required this hammered home to me. Occasionally Dominik can lapse into ‘music video’ mode as well which is a shame as it’s unnecessary but it doesn’t usually last for long.
Brad Pitt as Jackie is brilliant, as are all characters in the movie and Dominik should be commended for getting those performances. The dark humour shines through and you’ll laugh along at all the (in)appropriate places. The dialogue is quick and snappy when it needs to be and even though there’s a lot of dialogue it doesn’t feel heavy or slow the movie down.
Some of the shots Dominik employs in the movie are stunning even the subtle ones but the killing of one of the characters (the car scene), done in slow motion is simply outstanding.
For me Dominik is quickly becoming one of my favourite directors though his next choice of film, Blonde a story about Marilyn Monroe, may test that. If he pulls it off, the world’s his oyster!