Le Tueur (The Killer) (2007, Director: Cédric Anger): Dimitry is a hitman visiting Paris with a simple assignment: kill businessman Leo Zimmerman. Only Leo has figured it out and confronts Dimitry before he can do the job, offering him a strange “deal.” If he gives him a few more days to get his financial affairs in order so that his young daughter can be taken care of, he’ll cooperate fully in his own murder. From there, the twists the plot takes make it impossible for me to provide any more synopsis.
By the end, though, you’ll have more sympathy for the hitman, who is able to somehow transcend his grim profession to commit at least one good deed, and maybe more.
This noirish debut from writer-director Cédric Anger doesn’t break any new ground in terms of style or story, but it’s a well-acted and paced study of two different characters. Both Grégoire Colin as Dimitry and Gilbert Melki as Leo are outstanding, with Melki particularly adept at playing a complicated character. Some of the brushtrokes are a little clumsy (the hitman is fatherless, of course; the businessman’s wife is having an affair), a few of the twists don’t make sense, and setting the date of the execution on Christmas Eve was not only over the top, but came out of nowhere, at least for me. But Le Tueur was nevertheless an enjoyable film that builds very slowly and respects the performances of its actors.
Trailer (possible spoilers)
Note: Le Tueur is not only the debut of writer-director Anger, but of Montréal’s Evokative Films, whose founder Stéphanie Trépanier I interviewed recently. The film opens in Toronto on Friday November 28 at the AMC Yonge and Dundas.