Friday, June 23, 2006

Brief Movie Review: The Memory of a Killer

I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a Dutch film. Hell, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything from Belgium. However, if there are more movies out there like “The Memory of a Killer,” that’s going to change. While perusing Hollywood Video (which will soon be a thing of the past as I’m getting a Netflix account), I came across this title on their New Release wall. The box, while snappy in design, features an aging man with a gun and some other interesting people doing interesting things. The box cover that appears on is not the box they use at Hollywood Video.

The movie is based around an aging hitman Angelo Ledda, who, while eating lunch in Paris, is begrudgingly asked to do a “job” for his boss. Angelo is hesitant, as he states he’s retired, and you get the feeling that there is more to his reasons other than because he’s just getting “too old for this.” His boss convinces him and he’s off to the Belgium.

Something that confused me a lot, and this might just be because I’m unfamiliar with the area, is that people switch between Flemmish and French on the fly. I don’t know if this has to do with cultural influences in the area the movie takes place, or the predominance of a bi-lingual society, but I’m going to read up on it that later today. I mean, the movie is subtitled, so following along isn’t a big issue, but there is more than once occasion were they switch languages and comments are made like “you speak French, right?” and “there’s no need to use that archaic language, you can speak Flemmish here.”

So what’s the “memory” in the title stand for? Well, turns out that Angelo has a bit of a problem, he’s coming down with Alzheimer’s. Actually, it seems to be a genetic thing because his brother has it and is basically a pile of brain mush. The Dutch title of the film is “De Zaak Alzheimer,” which I thought was interesting. This effects his memory, and turns out to be the reason why he doesn’t want to do jobs anymore. He is forced to write basic things down on his arm so he won’t forget them, and at times will gets lost in what he’s doing, confused as to what he thinks he’s done and what he’s actually done. It is easily apparent when these memory problems are happening due to how they’re shot, but nonetheless it was an interesting angle. Fortunately, its not a huge part of the story and by far not the center piece of Angelo’s character.

I don’t want to go into the story too much, but it deals with Angelo not wanting to complete the second part of his job, which he finds out is killing a 12 or 13 year old girl. This basically escalates into a “cover-up/blackmail” of sorts dealing with child prostitution and some very high up officials in Belgian politics. Without the blackmail aspect of the story the reasons the bad guys are doing what they’re doing seem a little far fletched. But if you understand that if any of the blackmail stuff got out it could erupt into a scandal that could bring entire political families down, that seems to be enough. The story does try to point this out a few times, which was good enough for me.

I found all of the characters very interesting. The actors are rock solid with Koen De Bouw as Eric Vincke and Jan Decleir as Angelo Ledda. While all of the supporting cast was solid, the performances of these two leads really stood out in my view.

I’d give this movie an 8.5 out of 10, and it is easily one of the most interesting and original cop/crime dramas I’ve seen in some time.



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