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Killing Them Softly (Andrew Dominik, 2012)

November 30, 2012

Set against the backdrop of the 2008 US election, chunks of both major parties’ campaign rhetoric, as well as that of former President Bush, permeate select scenes of Killing Them Softly via background radios and televisions, entering like tumbleweeds rolling across a set. The film’s jarringly edited opening credits even cut between the title cards and Scoot McNairy’s slow passing through windswept garbage in a decayed, unnamed suburbia, looking cold and in pain as a cigarette hangs from his mouth, as his walk is scored by the mangled audio mix of an Obama speech about the “American promise of life”: “to make of our own lives what we will.” Later music use also veers far from subtlety, with songs like “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries” chosen for blatant irony, and a scene of substance abuse accompanied by the sounds of The Velvet Underground’s “Heroin”. In the hands of a lesser filmmaker, Killing Them Softly’s furious avoidance of coyness might prove disastrous, though the bluntness, despite its aesthetically enthralling execution, is still likely to frustrate many. Look beyond the louder elements of the economic and political threading, though, and one has a crackling dialogue-heavy thriller that revels in palpable atmospherics and great performances…

Full review at Sound on Sight

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