Scattered and weak
Suppose you wanted to kill yourself. Maybe that's not too hard to imagine. Now what do you do with the obstacles in the way of your decision?
Selma Blair is Shawn, a loan officer who finds herself contemplating a fateful leap from the roof of the bank. Meanwhile, a robbery gone awry - the police arrive unexpectedly because of our suicider upstairs - leaves one robber, Charlie, hustling through the building, and of course, he runs into her, stops her from jumping, and tries to hold her hostage.
Now, I think this is a comedy, the sort of edgy, ironic thing that appeals to a modern audience, so I can forgive the easy/obvious conflict over Shawn's immediate future, and the eventual bargain she strikes to "kill me later".
Kill Me Later is full of surface ideas - devices that, in principle, would be good to organize a script such as this, but there's nothing underneath it all.
Of course Shawn eventually lightens up and falls in love with Charlie, and then everything is fine. Aren't all suicidal people just waiting for someone to fix things for them?
If it seems like I speak lightly on the subject of suicide, there's a reason - the movie has the same attitude. It gives lip service to what people expect of the severly despondent, and ignores the actual implications of being in such a state in the first place. I say the film seems like a comedy because of the setup and this light manner of dealing with Shawn's actions. Yet, there are incomplete attempts to give the film some emotional weight. It's unfortunate, because the actors appear capable of handling such material. Where is the hand-wringing, the bouts of depression, even when things are going well? With the prototypical happy ending, we are left to conclude the only reason Shawn was suicidal was because the script needed it.
Stylistically, Kill Me Later is almost like a music video. We cut between various angles on the same subject, sometimes shuffling through space and time, in a haphazard way that isn't about informing us about what's going on, but instead underscores the particular mood of the scene. We even drop into dopey color effects that give the illusion of someone playing with the settings on a camcorder. Were they aware they needed something else to push the story forward, or was this simply how someone related the camera? Either, it neither illuminates the story and characters, nor adds anything on its own.
There's an interesting idea at the core here, and that's surely why the movie got made, but some greater care needs to be taken, no matter the subject matter, than what was put into this film. Better to have Killed It Sooner.
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