Thursday, January 03, 2013

Killing Them Softly

Killing Them Softly finally showed up in Singapore, and it didn't feel like it had been censored. Maybe they'd had to spend all that time making little signs to warn you there was "coarse language" throughout.

It's a fairly horrid film, done well. It starts painfully, an Obama speech interrupted by grinding noises and flashes of light, and carries on in that vein throughout. There's not much music to tell you to be excited or happy, and the dialogue often runs in before the visuals for the previous scene are done. Sometimes it's ugly and at other times it's beautiful that filmmakers have the freedom to make their audiences suffer.

This reaches its nadir (or perjaps climax) when one of the characters is on the nod after shooting up some heroin: it's one of the least glamourous depictions of drugs I've ever seen, like one of the teenagers from 80s anti-drug adverts in the UK, blown up to giant size.

It's not unremitting harshness: there are some cruel jokes, and a hold-up with men wearing yellow Marigolds, but I can understand why people were walking out. The trailers suggest it's another happy-go-lucky slice of slapstick gangster action, and when instead you're forced to watch Ray Liotta get properly beaten up, you might be surprised and dismayed.

I'd read the book (Cogan's Trade) before, and liked it, so I was prepared for what was going to happen, but I can understand how people might have felt they'd been tricked. It's a sight more ghastly than the book, which is surprising, given how horrid James Gandolfini's character was on the page. One should be impressed that it wasn't watered down for public consumption.

My wife quite liked it too. But we're married, so that doesn't imply it's a perfect date movie. Check to see if your paramour likes overweight men who are losing their hair and their minds before you get your tickets.


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