The Brits seem to have a feel; a certain flair for black comedy. They seem to have their own unique brand. Sir Alec Guinness had a rich history of comedy on the black side. Peter Sellers had his share too.
Guy Ritchie has made something of an art form out of it with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. American filmmakers tend to be linear; the French, lyrical … but the Brits make more cerebral; complicated, detailed and nuanced black comedies. Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges in another great example.
Now comes writer/director Kris McManus’ Dead in France, out on DVD from Breaking Glass Films on Mar. 26. It is one sweet black comedy, filled with double-dealers, a hitman — a hitwoman too to be fair — a femme fatale and whole lot of missing money.
Charles (Brian Levine) is something of a blue collar hitman. He could be a smart guy for all we know, but he’s spent all of his formative years whacking people. He hasn’t really developed much interest in anything else … you have an assignment, you do it. He’s a professional.
He’s piled up some doe for retirement and has left for the south of France and a place on the Mediterranean to sort things out. It is here that the wheels begin to come off … and the fun begins.
What makes the film work is the dialog. Dead in France is one of those little films where you would love to know the backstory. Levine, who hasn’t much in the way of film credits, teams up with McManus (only his second film) and they deliver a gem.