I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
William (the charming Aneurin Barnard: Dunkirk) wants to kill himself. But he’s as crap at that as he must be as a writer: why else would no one want to publish the book he’s written about his numerous (and obviously failed) suicide attempts? So he settles on death for real this time: he hires hitman Leslie (the also — and unexpectedly — charming Tom Wilkinson: The Titan) to do the job for him. It’s a service that Leslie has had to branch out into now that crazed Eastern Europeans have taken over the murder-for-hire field in London. Leslie has a contract for William to sign and everything, and if William isn’t dead in a week, he’ll get a refund. All fair and square. But what if William changes his mind? Well, that could be a problem, because Leslie has a quota to fill at the assassin’s guild, and his boss (Christopher Eccleston: Legend ) is a bit of a hardass…
With his feature debut, British writer-director Tom Edmunds has achieved a small miracle: he’s made a black comedy that’s actually gentle. (If asked previously, I would have said there’s no such thing as a gentle black comedy. But here we are.) What’s more, he’s made a comedy about suicide and mental illness that gets the tone just right, one that doesn’t make light of depression or self-destructive impulses but instead wrestles with the seemingly contradictory appeal of them. Head-on, as with the conversation William has with book editor Ellie (Freya Mavor) — she is suddenly interested in his book; hope can crop up when you least expect it — dissecting why contemplation of death can be so seductive. But also side-on, too: Edmunds fills Dead in a Week (Or Your Money Back) with absurdist details that pop up delightfully and nudge the movie just over the border into a realm of near-fantasy. One in which talking about despair and death is a lot easier and a lot more frank than it is in the real world. Dead in a Week could prompt as many empathetic conversations as it does easy, compassionate laughs.