Jul 3, 2014

Review: Killing Zoe (1993)

Roger Avery may have directed Killing Zoe but with Quentin Tarantino producing, it really feels Tarantino's fingerprints all over this movie. I don't know where the Avery stops and the Tarantino begins but that's not necessarily a bad thing. When I sit down to watch a movie, I just want something worthwhile. With Tarantino as part of the producer team, you can't really accuse Avery of ripping him off anyway. Quentin has given Roger the keys to the gate himself.

Avery's description of what he was trying to do with Killing Zoe is pretty apt. He wanted to make "an art-house film for both the coffeehouse crowd and the exploitation crowd" and that's exactly what he's done. Using familiar bank heist elements, artsy editing plus lots of bloody violence and drug use, there's enough here for both crowds.


Genre: crime, drama, thriller
Directed by: Roger Avary
Produced by: Samuel Hadida, Quentin Tarantino, Lawrence Bender
Written by: Roger Avary
Music by: tomandandy
Running time: 91 minutes
Production company: Davis-Films, Live Entertainment, PFG Entertainment
Distributed by: October Films, Metropolitan Filmexport, Live Entertainment, etc.
Country: United States, France
Language: English, French
Budget: $1,500,000
Box office: $418,961 (United States)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Eric Stoltz, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Julie Delpy, Gary Kemp, Kario Salem, Tai Thai, Bruce Ramsay, Salvator Xuereb, Cecilia Peck, Ron Jeremy, David Richard Thompson


Zed (Eric Stoltz) arrives in Paris to meet up with an old friend who has a plan up his sleeve. Eric (Jean Hughes-Anglade) is planning on robbing a bank and needs Zed's safe cracking skills. When Zed arrives at his hotel, he calls a prostitute by the name of Zoe (Julie Delpy) over who he somehow makes a deep connection during his time with her. This is right before Eric shows up and rudely kicks her out of the hotel room. The heist is supposed to take place the next day. Eric and his entire crew take Zed out for a night on the town with the promise of good times before their big day.


There are lots and lots of drugs being used in Killing Zoe, almost comically so. The use of the Otto Nemenz Swing & Tilt lenses gives some interesting style for these drug scenes. These scenes in question do seem to go on for a bit too long perhaps but Jean Hughes-Anglade's performance carries the film forward with some real infectious energy coming from his character.

Killing Zoe has style coming out of its ears but some of it does seem a bit empty. I enjoyed the effort and work that was put into the colours, the mise-en-scène and the editing choices but there doesn't seem to be that much of a reason for these decisions. However, I can't help but like the majority of these stylistic decisions and I especially love the score for Killing Zoe. The beginning of the heist owes a lot to the score which is kind of happy and excited while what's going on in that bank is kind of disturbing so there's a nice offsetting effort going on there.

The script was apparently written by Roger Avery in a week and a half and does not hold too many surprises. (Spoilers) It's not really a shock when we see Zoe among the bank's employees and the ensuing conflict between Zed and Eric over her. (End Spoilers) It's still an enjoyable story and as I mentioned before, Jean Hughes-Anglade really keeps things rolling with his unhinged craziness just dominating a lot of the film. 

While Killing Zoe may not be the most fulfilling movie every made, it's irresistibly interesting to look at and has some performances that are worth watching. I can't really say if it is an Avery film or a Tarantino film but either way I don't really care. Avery delivers an enjoyable bank heist film with some questionable motive behind all his style but in the end, Killing Zoe is a movie that is too cool for school and I'm just a sucker for these kinds of movies.



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