An edgy, energetic romantic thriller in the tradition of “Run Lola Run,” “A Life Less Ordinary” and “Out of Sight,” “Kill Me Later” reps the sophomore effort (after “Wedding Bell Blues”) of helmer Dana Lustig. With its pulsing soundtrack and adroitly cast, up-and-coming leads, pic has a probable appeal to twentysomethings that must have repped a major selling point to Lions Gate, which acquired it at the Santa Barbara fest. Look for this item to make an impact with the arthouse crowd — and possibly beyond, if it’s positioned carefully.
Rising star Selma Blair (“Cruel Intentions”) plays Shawn, a bright but clinically depressed bank teller fed up with her life. Exhausted by a dead-end relationship with her married boss (D.W. Moffett), Shawn impulsively decides to jump off the roof of the bank where she works.
But her plan is foiled when a young thief named Charlie (Max Beesley) takes her hostage after committing a heist. With nothing to lose, Shawn agrees to help Charlie escape if he’ll promise to kill her later.
What neither Charlie nor Shawn expects initially is how attached they’ll grow to one another, a development that complicates both Shawn’s determination to end her life and Charlie’s troubles with the law. Lustig plays out the three-pronged conflict with humor and pathos as Charlie risks his anonymity to save Shawn from her suicidal impulses and Shawn postpones her own plans in order to help Charlie evade the law.
As the plot develops, other clues turn up to indicate yet another character had helped mastermind the heist; it’s left to a couple of FBI agents (O’Neal Compton, Lochlyn Munro) to determine his identity.
“Kill Me Later” moves along at a brisk pace that’s abetted by David Ferrara’s gritty lensing and Mike Morrison’s urgent musical selections.
Less effective, though obviously very trendy at the moment, are the jagged editing shifts that repeatedly intercut immediate past and present scenes. Whereas such temporal disjunction worked brilliantly to amplify the central relationship in “Out of Sight,” in this case it feels like a needlessly flashy foregrounding of style over substance. That’s not to say Gabriel Wrye’s editing isn’t always effective, but its overuse can detract from the events at hand.
Blair makes a sullen, though curiously appealing, heroine, and Beesley, who brings to mind Ewan McGregor, is outstanding as her partner on the run. He’s also given a much greater range of emotional notes to play.