Very recently I had got a stash of films from a close friend. I always go to him in case I need any film recommendations. I wanted to watch a film which was short in duration and whose rating was around 7.5 to 8.0 on IMDB (yes! I still use IMDB & go by its ratings).Browsing through the list of titles, I came across an unusual title. The film was “I hired a contract Killer”. The title intrigued me so I checked IMDB and saw that the film was rated at 7.0 and it was just ~80minutes long. I decided to watch the film as I usually enjoy watching films of short duration.
The plot of the film in itself is very intriguing:
The story is based out of London and begins with a French immigrant Henri Boulanger(played superbly by Jean Pierre Leaud) shown working in a very boring office and doing a very mundane job(at least that’s what it seems). Because of the financial issues the company has decided to lay off some of the employees. For some or the other reason, foreigners are the first victims. He gets depressed as he loses his job (he had been working there for 15 years), he thinks there is nothing in his life and therefore decides to commit suicide. There are some hilarious series of attempts of killing himself: hanging from the ceiling (but rope is torn apart), putting the head in a microwave oven etc.So finally Henri decides that he will hire a professional assassin (Kenneth Colley) to do the job. While waiting for his final hour to come, he goes to a pub. And there the unexpected happens: he meets a woman Margaret (Margi Clarke),falls in love with her and decides he wants to live as he suddenly feels that his life has got its meaning and there is something to look forward to. He wants to annul the contract and goes to the very same bar next day only to find that the bar is demolished and that the contract killer is looking out for him. What follows from there on is a hilarious series of dog and cat chase sequences between the killer and Henri. How he manages to get away from that killer and deal with hilarious kind of situations forms the crux of the story.
I would not like to write more about the plot as I want you guys to watch the film and find out for yourself what happens next. The last 30 minutes of film gives you the feeling of having seen a Hitchcock film.This is a very dark and very realistic film about loneliness and depression. All the main characters in the film are lonely people, with very little to live for. Nonetheless, this is in essence, a black comedy. The film deals with life and its contradictions, the change of mind and regrets.This is not your run-of-mill slapstick comedy film like Hangover or a Due date. The film as I said earlier is a black comedy. The film compels you to think. It puts you in the shoes of the protagonist. Just imagine you worked for 15 years in a company, slogging hard in some country of which you are not a citizen of and suddenly you are notified by your boss that you are no longer required by the company. No notice in advance, no justification, just sudden layoff.
Talking about performances Jean-Pierre Léaud has given a wonderful performance. The guy speaks with dash of incomprehensible English accent. He has totally screwed up expressions on his face irrespective of the situation he is in (which are actually funny to the viewer, however it is not all funny for a guy who just has given ransom to a gangster to get himself killed), but the hero’s love interest Margaret (Margi Clarke) has given a horrible performance. She has a dreadful accent and also doesn’t have any acting skills. This slight casting anomaly prevents I Hired a Contract Killer from being a must watch. Kenneth Colley as the killer is superb. The look in his eyes and mannerisms convinces us that he is the man whom everyone needs to be afraid of by staying cold and unaffected throughout the whole film.
Also one hallmark of film is that the film uses minimum dialogues. The opening 6 minutes of the films does not have a single dialogue. This makes this film more riveting and engrossing to watch. Maybe that explains why actors speak in weird accents. With a running time of ~80mins this films is worth investing your time. The film is neither “Art Cinema” type while still having the the flavor of it and it’s neither out and out mainstream commercial cinema but still has those touches in it.
I would recommend this to anyone who loves the above category of films.
This was my first Aki Kaurismaki film and I enjoyed this film thoroughly. Looking forward to watching many more works of his.
P.S -1) If anyone has English subtitles of the film please let me know.
2) Jean-Pierre Léaud is the guy who played the role of schoolboy (Antoine Donel) in Truffauts classic, The 400 blows