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November 02, 2012

Starz Denver Film Festival 2012 - Kill Me


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Emily Atef - 2012
NiKo Film

Usually, I don't think too much about the use of sound in movies. The exception usually is in films spanning the genre of horror or suspense. In Kill Me, there are a couple of scenes where the only sound is that of the wind. There is no moment when any characters comments on the wind. And yet, there was a sense that this was the kind of cold wind that you find in the damper areas, the kind that is described as bone chilling. And while much of the area that the two people on the run traverse is desolate, the wind accentuates their sense of isolations from the world, and often each other.

Emily Atef doesn't give the viewer much to go by with her main character, Adele, first seen pondering the view below from the edge of a cliff. A thirteen year old girl, who lives on a small farm, there are a few clues that her life is an uneventful path between school and farm chores. An escaped prisoner, Timo, hides in the house. Discovered by Adele, the girl aids in Timo's getting out the small German town in exchange for his helping her commit suicide. Adele is specific in wanting to be pushed off a cliff.

More is revealed about Timo, imprisoned for the murder of his adoptive father. Adele simply seems to have the vague notion that death is better than life, or at least the life that she knows. Adele later reveals that she was with her beloved older brother when he dies in a moped accident. The two end up in Marseilles, where Timo is certain he can find a boat that will take him to Africa. The journey involves lots of hiking as well as other people's cars. During this road trip, Adele and Timo form a bond.

Kill Me is neither elliptical or abstract, yet Atef makes a narrative film where the onus is on the viewer to fill in the gaps. Only in the scene where Timo confronts his brother in Marseilles is there any kind of explanatory dialogue, and even then certain details are omitted. And sometimes, a scene will speak for itself as when Timo and Adele are picked up on the road by a French woman who lives alone. After speaking in English to an uncomprehending Timo, the woman and Timo tentatively, and then aggressively, grip each other's bodies.

Even when Timo and Adele have their inner conflicts, Atef suggests that they are happiest alone in nature. The camera pauses on forests in Westphalia, and the rocky coast near Marseilles. The exception is a ship's harbor in Marseilles, seen barely lit in the the distance, the final shot in the film, with a conclusion left for the audience to ponder.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at November 2, 2012 07:56 AM