Monday, June 14, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #12, Killing Me Softly

Now, that's what I'm talking about! Killing Me Softly, the twelfth-worst movie of the last decade according to Rotten Tomatoes, is not only really bad, but it is really funny. Really, really funny. It's the kind of movie that begs for the MST3K treatment. It shouldn't be funny, though. Killing Me Softly was made by a legit director, Chen Kaige (Farewell my Concubine) in his English language debut, and has a couple of really beautiful shots. Chen maybe should have stuck to Chinese though, as he seems to be a bit lacking in the direction of English-speaking actors.

The prime suspect here is Heather Graham. She isn't a bad actress, but she is so robotic in this one that she makes it seem like Ingrid Bergman played the Jetsons' maid. The script does her no favors. I presume that it's hard to be but so good when there is a scene where you are walking around a house and saying, out loud, "I wonder where I can find a shirt." It's hard to take an actress' performance seriously when she gets a threatening note and reads it aloud, even though she's by herself. Graham is joined by the severely overacting Joseph Fiennes. Some of the great mockable moments occur as he swings his arms widely to show disbelief and anger, often knocking harmless knick-knacks around in the process. There is little time to enjoy the show, however, as Fiennes and Graham have various forms of sex for perhaps 98 of the movie's 99 minutes. The movie is worthy of Cinemax, but only barely.

The film is based on a novel, but it must be a pretty bad novel. The plot deals with an American woman in London who is in a boring relationship and then sees a mysterious man on the street. She follows him into a bookstore and, boom, sex. Now her sex with the guy she's living with is even more boring, so she leaves him for the mysterious guy in a scene in which she wears a skirt that goes down to just slightly past her navel even though it's snowing outside. Mysterious guy finds her outside his place and, bam, sex. After beating up a mugger in somewhat of a non-sequitir, he decides they should get married and, pow, sex. This time in a cemetery. He has a locked door in his house and, upon finding the key, she discovers he has letters from an ex who disappeared at one point after falling off of a mountain (the guy's a mountain climber, but whatever). Somehow -- and perhaps I may have missed something -- this leads her to believe that he's a serial killer. Menacing music starts playing while she runs away and hides from him in various places. I was never that concerned, though, because I never understood why I should be afraid of him. I suppose that somehow the erotic asphyxiation scene was supposed to be a hint that he could strangle people, but he didn't even use his hands (it was some sort of silk thing)! She runs from him and into the arms of his sister and it's at that point that I realized that the sister was, in fact, the serial killer. There was no hint of this, but it just seemed realistic. Of course, I should have also foreseen (since sex hadn't been discussed in thirty seconds or so) that she killed his girlfriends because they used to have an incestual relationship. It's my second incest-themed movie in the last three, and that doesn't even include any assumptions about Witless Protection!

Sorry I gave away the plot, but you would have guessed it anyway. This movie isn't worth seeing for the twists and turns. It's not worth seeing because Heather Graham's breasts practically make more appearances than her face. It's not worth seeing because the end involves someone inexplicably being shot with a flare gun. Frankly, it's just not worth seeing. But, if you must(!), see Killing Me Softly for the comedy, unintentional as it may be.

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