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maryann johanson | self-isolating

You Kill Me (review)

In the droll annals of the black comedy, can it get much blacker than “alcoholic mob hitman goes to AA”? How about “alky hitman goes to AA, and also gets a legit job prepping corpses in a funeral home”? Ben Kingsley (A Sound of Thunder) flits around like a startled bird as said killer in this comfortably quirky little flick, playing it straight and sad as a man forced by his own weakness from the only life he has ever known into, well, something new. Like Six Feet Under meets My Blue Heaven, the humor here springs from the clash of the touchy-feely pop psychology of self-help with the pragmatic minimalism of the life-and-death reality of the mob; the cinematic joy and surprise comes from Kingsley’s grudging acknowledgement that the two philosophies mesh better than he was expecting. Edgily charming performances from the entire cast — which also features Téa Leoni (Fun with Dick & Jane) as Kingsley’s unlikely new girlfriend, Luke Wilson (Blades of Glory) as his AA sponsor, and Bill Pullman (Nobel Son) as a mob hireling — buoy an already clever script (by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely), and director John Dahl (who made the criminally underrated The Great Raid) resists the urge to overbake the comedy, letting an unexpected undercurrent of pathos give this more heft than it probably deserves.

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MPAA: rated R for language and some violence

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