I’m not sure what it is exactly, maybe because it’s a first time this director (the man behind the superb “The Emperor and The Assassin”) has done an English film, maybe its because the genre is easily ridiculed if not done correctly. Whatever the case “Killing Me Softly” is a film to definitely see – not for the thrills it promises, but rather for the fact it’s the best unintentional comedy of the year after maybe “Glitter”. Indeed, there’s no way to take this movie seriously and if you do then you might as well hire out “Night Eyes 4” or something because at least that has a script, a storyline, and some brief groin shots. If you don’t, your in for a fun time.
The sexual thriller is a notoriously difficult genre and what few work (“Basic Instinct”, “The Last Seduction” and “Fatal Attraction”) all have one thing in common – a dynamic performance by the lead actress. Unlike Stone, Fiorentino or Close – Heather Graham is not the greatest actress around despite a great turn in “Boogie Nights” and here she delivers her worst performance yet with some truly hideous overacting – there’s a shot in here of her drinking tea that had people in the cinema rolling in the isles with laughter (even though it was supposed to be a big suspense moment). Fiennes, the man with the eternal smouldering look, fares a little better because he doesn’t seem to be taking things as seriously – but what few times he does (such as a brawl on a street with a mugger) are cringe worthy.
Everything is done with over-exaggerated movements and odd stares, and the plot? non-existent. Girl sees man on street, she ditches work and visits him, they screw, swap love notes, get hitched, screw some more (with scarf bondage this time) and then she starts finding out he has a past (he’s a mountain climber and his ex-girlfriend dies during an expedition in the film’s startlingly well shot opening sequence). Sound familiar? Indeed, the story is a watered down clone of many sex thrillers before it including recycled elements like McElhone as Fiennes’ sister who is so overly affectionate toward Graham in practically every scene I was waiting for them to basically get into a menage-a-troi. As things progress toward the end, and after numerous ‘near misses’ while she investigates him, comes a confusing and all over silly ending with shovels being thrown around, corpses being uncovered and a morbid twist out of left field.
Now for the important stuff – the nudity. There’s quite a bit of simulated sex in this (in that “Showgirls” epileptic fit style), both Graham and Fiennes show off their chests and backsides for a good 10 minutes of the film’s runtime – most of it in two scenes, the first f**k (which involves a bended position not recommended for those who don’t do kundhalini yoga) and their honeymoon screw which involves a yellow scarf/fireplace bondage bit as Joseph for some reason likes doing it with a ‘gasper’. The music, like the expressions, is again so over done it becomes somewhat cheesy – you know the ‘Ba-Boom’ kind of noises when Joseph pops up unexpectedly (despite being across town only minutes before).
The locations are used better – the shots of England are more subdued and less ‘landmark’ oriented than normal (a good thing), indeed the ‘look’ of the film and lighting is quite interesting. That’s not enough to compensate for a predictable and plot-hole filled script entirely lacking in originality, muddled direction, razzie award winning performances and so on (well I can say it is just a fraction of an inch better than “Sliver” but that’s not hard). Nevertheless, if your in the mood for a bad film to have a good laugh to, and are keen to see either Heather or Joseph doing the rumpy-pumpy, then take a look and have fun.