Jun 22, 2014

Review: Killing Me Softly (2002)

Erotic thrillers never seem to be easy to pull off very convincingly. Whether it's how ridiculous the story is or because of ineffective actors in key roles, erotic thrillers seem to fall flat on their face when it really matters. It's more of a 1990's thing if you ask me, but here we have Killing Me Softly from 2002 which is based off of a novel by Nicci French.

Chen Kaige directed Killing Me Softly and is still his only English language film. I've seen only one of his films but I remember The Emperor and the Assassin for its visual style and made for the stage-like story very clearly. To be sure, close to nothing in Killing Me Softly shows off what Kaige is capable of.


Genre: drama, mystery, romance
Directed by: Kaige Chen
Produced by: Michael Chinich, Joe Medjuck, Lynda Myles, etc.
Written by: Kara Lindstrom
Music by: Patrick Doyle
Running time: 100 minutes
Production company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, The Montecito Picture Company, Noelle Entertainment Limited
Distributed by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Pathé, Amuse Pictures, etc.
Country: United States, United Kingdom
Language: English
Budget: $25,000,000
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Heather Graham, Joseph Fiennes, Natascha McElhone, Ulrich Thomsen, Ian Hart, Jason Hughes, Kika Markham, Amy Robbins, Yasmin Bannerman, Rebecca Palmer, Ronan Vibert, Olivia Poulet




Alice (Heather Graham) is a seemingly content American woman living in London. She's got a boyfriend she lives with and a steady, secure job. Going to work one morning, she has an encounter with Adam Tallis (Joseph Fiennes) who is a famed mountain climber. Alice is completely enamored with him and can't stop thinking about him. Things get more serious once she makes the decision to get into a cab with him.


Killing Me Softly is relatively well filmed. Where everything does go wrong however is with the story, the dialogue and Joseph Fiennes. Despite how pretty some of the shots in Killing Me Softly are, these problems don't just go away. Kaige is afforded some of his trademark style but very, very little. He had the misfortune of being saddled with a real mess of a script and an unconvincing actor in Fiennes.

As an erotic thriller, I'm sure you can imagine that there are many sex scenes. They're pretty animalistic and on the edge to what's normally shown in Hollywood. At a certain point though, there's a threshold that's passed and these scenes become ridiculous. One of the key reasons why this happens is because of Joseph Fiennes.

Fiennes is hilarious. He's meant to be this dark, mysterious man that Alice knows nothing about. He wears a black leather jacket! He's got this raspy voice! Wow! I guess Adam seduces her with his aura of manliness but honestly, he looks like a creep. He is a creep! If I can't take Adam Tallis seriously, the whole movie is for nothing. He's the key cog and Fiennes falls flat on his face. One thing he can't be blamed for though is the dialogue.

Yikes pretty much describes some of the awful lines that grace Killing Me Softly. Chen Kaige can't be blamed for that because he isn't the writer and I'm assuming that English isn't his first language anyway. There are more than a few forehead slapping moments of dialogue ineptness and if you're into that kind of thing, Killing Me Softly is a goldmine.

The story gets more and more ridiculous as the film goes on and any kind of understanding and sympathy for Alice gets thrown out the window. Kaige didn't deserve this awful mess and I'm glad he never came back to Hollywood to try again. Killing Me Softly deserves no better than being in a bargain bin.



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