In "Kill by Inches," the intriguing but flawed directorial debut of Diane Doniol-Valcroze and Arthur Flam, the atmosphere is properly bizarre and in moments even scary, but there's no involving story or characters to sustain the feature-length narrative.

In “Kill by Inches,” the intriguing but flawed directorial debut of Diane Doniol-Valcroze and Arthur Flam, the atmosphere is properly bizarre and in moments even scary, but there’s no involving story or characters to sustain the feature-length narrative. This psychological noir-thriller, which seems to draw its inspiration from David Lynch and other horror filmmakers, will try the patience of the most dedicated arthouse patrons, and will be relegated to minor regional film festivals.

Emmanuel Salinger, who was so good in Arnaud Desplechin’s “The Sentinel” and “How I Got Into an Argument, or My Sex Life,” plays a young, nervous tailor whose pathological obsession with measuring female customers ultimately leads to a violent murder. Co-writers and co-helmers Doniol-Valcroze and Flam, both NYU film graduates, claim impressive family credits: the former is daughter of Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, co-founder of Cahiers du Cinema and proponent of auteurism, and latter’s uncle was Roman Polanski’s co-scripter on “Knife in the Water.” Their neophyte effort is a well-executed film from a technical standpoint; it’s marred by repetition of ideas and stagnant pacing, though some of the visual images are effective in evoking a neo-noirish ambience of suspense.

Kill by Inches

Production

A CineBlast! production. Produced by Gill Holland. Executive producers, Michael Morley, Raymond Demarco. Directed, written by Diane Doniol-Valcroze, Arthur Flam.

Crew

Camera (color), Richard Rutkowski; editors, Elizabeth Gazzara, Ethan Spigland; music, Geir Jenssen; production designer, P.K. Wish; art director/sound, Peter Levin. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Discovery), Sept. 14, 1999. Running time: 85 MIN.

With

Emmanuel Salinger, Myriam Cyr, Marcus Powell, Christopher Zach.
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