Culture  Suspended anxiety and static scenes

Cedric Anger’s The Killer reworks Hollywood clichés

With his debut film The Killer, Cedric Anger successfully intermingles the stories of a wealthy investment analyst and father, Leo Zimmerman, and his blasé hit man, Dimitri Kopas, in a tale that exposes the limits of success and failure.

What begins as a typical Hollywood murder plot – a wealthy and appealing man running away from his unattractive killer – turns into a well-developed poetic story and extremely stylish film. When we first meet Leo, his life seems ideal: he has a darling daughter, a beautiful wife, and an opulent home. The killer, on the other hand, is anything but. He comes off as a cliché Hollywood murderer; we first see him watching violent television alone in a hotel room (perhaps a hidden message?) and then dining unaccompanied at a deserted Mexican restaurant. Yet the film is interesting for the way it parallels and interweaves the lives of a killer and his victim.

While Leo is much more successful on a superficial level, his life is also filled with emptiness. As a result, upon meeting his own killer, a strange and significant relationship emerges. From this point on, their roles reverse; as Kopas encounters a world of love and sympathy, Leo spirals downward into one of drugs and jealousy.

Despite the alleged action-packed plotline, this movie breaks the classical Hollywood rules through its use of original storytelling and filmmaking strategies. The plot is an exercise in suspense. Both the viewer and characters are constantly waiting – for secrets to be revealed, for someone to show emotion, and, of course, for cold-blooded murder. Moreover, the uncanny film noir mis-en-scène reinforces this sense of suspended anxiety.

The acting alone is worth seeing. Gregoir Colin, playing the eerie hit man, and his counterpart Gilbert Melki, in the role of Leo Zimmerman, provide a strong representation of the complexities of human life. There is nothing motivating or interesting about the characters’ lives themselves – in fact, the roles are actually written one-dimensionally so that one is unable to look into their past and see clear motivations for their actions. Yet despite this lack of depth, I found myself siding with them nonetheless. While the bizarre ending leaves many questions unanswered, these two individuals remained, surprisingly, in my mind long after the movie ended.