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The Independent Critic

 STARRING
Celia Muir, Darren Bransford, Lee Cheney
DIRECTED BY
Kris McManus
SCREENPLAY
Kris McManus, Brian A. Levine
MPAA RATING
NR
RUNNING TIME
88 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Breaking Glass Pictures
DVD EXTRAS
Gag Reel; Deleted Scenes
 "Dead in France" an Oddly Bland Dark Comedy/Thriller 
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 If you're going to mine the whole "darkly comical hitman" sub-genre of some genre that I actually am not familiar with, then you'd better make sure you've got your act together because lately it seems like both Hollywood and the indie film scene have been going kind of nutzoid about this type of film. 

While it's admirable that Brian A. Levine self-funded this project that he also stars in, unfortunately that's not quite enough to make Dead in France really stand out from the crowd. 

Does that mean it's a bad film? Not at all. 

Dead in France is a reasonably entertaining, quite dark, incredibly graphic and occasionally really fun film for those who prefer their action with a twist of wit and depravity. The film centers around Charles (Levine), a hitman who is nearing his 100th hit and plans to retire after doing so. Charles would like to retire with a yacht and a woman, but his socially awkward self isn't particularly good with either one. Then, he meets Lisa (Celia Muir). Lisa has a hot-headed boyfriend (Darren Bransford) with a few ideas of his own. 

Can you kinda get where we're going here?

Charles has a particularly successful final job that scores him a couple million thanks to a pay-off by Burgess (Ray Ash), who really only wants to live and is willing to pay for that privilege. 

Doesn't this sound like a film that Colin Farrell would make?

As I noted, Dead in France isn't particularly a bad film. There's something about the British wit that keeps you watching the film even when you keep thinking to yourself "This isn't nearly as good as I was hoping." The film is shot in B&W, though the reason for doing so isn't really readily apparent. If you're able to really surrender to yourself, Dead in France is dark enough and fun enough that you may very well find yourself enjoying it quite a bit. If, however, you're the type of bloke to sit there and stare at the screen processing all the things wrong with it, then for sure Dead in France is not for you. 

It also hurts that Levine isn't a particularly compelling leading man. Maybe that's unfair. Maybe it's just that this isn't quite the perfect fit for his brand of dialogue delivery, but Levine comes off as more slacker than hitman with a fairly verbose bit of dialogue that becomes burdensome to listen to after awhile. As an actor, there's a definite presence there - this just isn't the right project. 

The action sequences are actually quite convincing and well choreographed, while director McManus also lenses the film in a way that adds quite a bit of unpredictable excitement. Adam Langston's original music also companions the film quite nicely. 

Among the key players, Celia Muir is most delightful as she plays the housekeeper with a delicious mixture of sweet innocence and devious posturing. Muir serves up a layered performance that makes you anxious to see what the actress will do next. 

Dead in France had a solid indie festival run including picking up a trio of prizes at the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood including Best Film, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor (So, obviously, not everyone will agree on Levine!). 

The film has been picked up by the fine folks at Breaking Glass Pictures for its home video release, and that's the perfect distributor to package such a film. Breaking Glass does a terrific job for indie filmmakers with difficult to market projects, and while Dead in France may not be everyone's cup of tea it'll do just fine with those who love their action flicks with a dastardly dark streak of humor and wit smack dab in the middle of it. For more information, visit the Breaking Glass Pictures website linked to in the credits on the left of this review. 

© Written by Richard Propes 
The Independent Critic  

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