Killing them softly

Where does experimentation ends being art and start becoming a mind numbing bore? This fine line between brilliance and obscurity scares me as a scriptwriter. In a film, the margin for error is even narrower than we think.

Take Killing them softly. It does cultivate the atmosphere well. I loved those two half witted characters who rob the mafia. I loved the fact that in this film, among all the characters, the lead character deserved the least of our sympathies. I loved the fact that the action whenever it happens is not contrived or artificially complicated to feed our need for thrill.

Despite being smart, Killing them Softly clearly lacks something. It fails to make me care for anything happening on screen. It fails on the basics of story telling. I understand that the dialogue oriented scenes (where most of the action is revealed through tangent conversations) is the style of the book that was adapted into this film. But after Tarantino films, it is tough the shake off the feeling of familiarity when you see lot of smart irrelevant dialogue in an crime thriller. And the allusions to American economy at various points becomes just plain irritating (‘Okay, I get it. Please don’t play another speech by Obama in the backdrop, please.’)

And sometimes the play with visuals and sound (like the flashes and sounds a character experience after a fix, the scene of Brad pitt killing a character at a traffic signal) are innovative but not really enjoyable.

Yeah, I guess that is the problem in a nut shell. You can be clever as much as you want. But art is about making a connection. It is about taking you along. Any amount of visceral brilliance may still fall short on that.


5 thoughts on “Killing them softly

    1. Dillon is a master criminal who is well connected to the syndicate. This character recurs in other books of George V Higgins who wrote ‘Cogan’s trade’ which was made into this film.

      1. Haven’t seen the movie, but I’m pretty sure Dillon doesn’t appear in the book. Which is, if I remember right, pretty weak in the same way you describe the movie. Lot of dialogue. Not very clever. Don’t give a shit about anyone. It feels derivative, even though when it was written, 35 years ago, it was fresh.


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