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DVD Review

DVD cover

Dead in France


Starring: Brian Levine, Celia Muir, Darren Bransford, Lee Cheney and Kate Loustau
RRP: £17.99
Certificate: 18
Available 20 August 2012

Charles is a posh middle aged hit man who has finally reached his one hundred kills, which allows him to retire - a prospect which becomes even more possible when his hundredth hit turns out to be an old friend who bribes him with two million to leave him alone. So, he has the money and he has the permission to retire, everything should be perfect, but while the French pose no problems for his plans the group of dysfunctional expats cause him nothing but grief. His cleaner is secretly renting out his home and pocketing the money with her moronic boyfriend. A chance encounter with two brothers has Charles loose his money temporally and a previous partner takes his news of retirement so badly she travels to France to make sure his retirement is permanent...

Dead in France (B&W - 2012 - 1 hr, 24 min, 25 sec) a crime/comedy film directed by Kris McManus from a script co-written with Brian A. Levine. The PR blurb tries to sell the film as Tarantino meets Ritchie.

Our central character is Charlie (Brian A. Levine) a posh bloke who just happens to kill people for a living. For reasons unexplained, when he reaches his one hundredth victim he can retire. This is furthered by his last hit’s partner actually giving him two million to go away. So things are looking rosy for Charlie, more so as he is starting to feel that it may be time to inject a little romance in his life. The object of his affection is Lisa (Celia Muir) who Charlie has hired, although exactly for what is a bit of a mystery during the interview as the audiences expectation is misdirected from her true purpose.

Now, she seems like a nice foul mouthed, large breasted girl and just the sort of sexually liberated person which Charlie, who has never even kissed a woman, might find alluring. Personally the audience is pretty much convinced that she would eat him alive and spit out the bones. His retirement is further complicated when it turns out that she is not there to offer herself to him body and soul, but to run a renting scam, with her boyfriend and local nut job Denny (Darren Bransford).

Still Charlie has two million, so he calls an old acquaintance, a hit woman to announce his retirement, but Clancy (Kate Loustau) takes the news so badly that she decides to fly to France to kill Charlie. His day takes the final nose dive when he runs into brothers Simon (Lee Cheney) and Raymond (James Privett), who nick his money.

I can see, from the convoluted and contrived plot, the over-the-top levels of violence, as well as the gags, why the film was compared to Tarantino and Ritchie and whilst the film is certainly not a rip off of either director; neither does it have that extra level of polish to warrant true comparison. That is not to say that it isn’t entertaining in its own right and I spent a very pleasant and amusing hour and a half in the casts company. The vast majority of the gags work and, more importantly, they were actually funny. The graphic violence is pushed to levels where it is more comedic than concerning, although cat lovers might be a little appalled.

Most of the cast are very strong and as part of the crime/comedy genre, the characters are suitably over the top, although the best performances came from Kate Loustau (Clancy) and the decidedly eccentric Celia Muir (Lisa). The rest of the cast are fine, although each has small moments of wooden presentation, even with such a sharp script to work from.

There are a couple of extras on the disc, including a Gag Reel (11 min, 57 sec) with the usual fluffing of lines, amusing at best, and Deleted Scenes, David Cross (5 min 59 sec) an extension of the flashback scene, complete with music and effects, The Olive (1 min, 43 sec) has a different take on the restaurant scene near the end of the film and Chasing Ray (1 min, 18 sec) a sequence cut from when Charles chases Ray, trying to get his money back, each has an introduction which explains why the scene was cut. There are two trailers on the disc, the Original Trailer (1 min, 43 sec) and the Red Band Trailer (2 min, 24 sec). The disc is finished off with trailers for nine other films from the same distributor.

The black and white print is very clear and benefits from the lovely backdrop of the south of France. You get a choice of audio track, both English, either 5.1 or 2.0.

The easiest way of working out if you’re going to like the film is to see if the first five minutes, which includes the first gag works for you. It worked for me. Although the film is no classic, compared to other similar low budget films, this one is way ahead of the pack.


Charles Packer

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