Film Reviews

THE SUICIDE THEORY

By • Jul 6th, 2015 •

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Fascinating and very clever.

At an early age, some people just know what they are good at. Steven’s (Steve Mouzakis) talent is killing. He is also a tuxedo-wearing opera aficionado with a hair-trigger temper. There is one thing we know about movie hitmen – they are lousy with money and always have to take the gig no one else wants. Steven is in no mood for killing. His girlfriend Annie was a fatal victim of a hit-and-run.

Steven’s long-time employer, Frank (Mirko Grillini), has given him a contract he has yet to finish. People lose faith in a hitman with an emotional side.

One night, as Steven exits a cab to complete the contract, a body drops from the sky and hits the cab. A weird looking man – covered in bruises and scarred – gets up from the smashed cab. Percival (Leon Cain) has just attempted suicide again.

Percival is either the name of a knight in King Arthur’s court who sought the elusive Holy Grail or it means the epitome of sophistication and class. Considering the state Percival is in, one could say he is in search of that other elusive quest – the Socratic “good death”.

All Percival’s attempts at death have been fruitless. He now knows he cannot die. The Grim Reaper is avoiding him. Percival has become a gay sage. He sees the miraculous in his dilemma. Now Fate has brought him a hitman. Steven is Fate’s pawn. How elegant a solution. Percival hires Steven to kill him. But it comes with a strange condition: He must not want to die. Steven has to find the one moment when he is happy and wants to live. Death must come as an unwanted surprise. Only then can he die.

Steven is not one to contemplate his navel or the philosophical meaning of “being and nothingness”.

When was the last time you read a reference to Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential tome?

Steven needs the fast money because he’s another “not good with money” hitman.

Percival has a sorry tale to tell. His beloved, Chris, has suddenly died. Chris was the only thing he loved in this world. He has lost the will to live but death has eluded his many attempts. He has tried them all: poison, hanging, bridge jumping, autoerotic asphyxiation, and getting beaten by a motorcycle gang.

Steven doesn’t believe a word of his story. He takes the money and shoots Percival 3 times – twice in the chest and once in the face. Percival survives but loses an eye.

Now Percival has gotten Steven’s attention. Percival is furious. Steven did not follow his instructions. Sure, he caught him by surprise, but he’s not happy to be alive. That’s the key, he needs to be happy.

Percival demands Steven get to know him. Steven needs to find the one thing that will make Percival want to live and then he can successfully kill him. Where else to start but at a gay bar?

But with a sloppily bandaged eye instead of a sexy pirate’s eye patch, stringy unwashed hair and out-of-shape, no one is going to have sex with Percival. Steven pays the bartender to sleep with Percival, which only brings the two of them closer and leads to more unhappiness.

Meanwhile, Frank wants him to complete his contract. He’s not supposed to take side jobs. Since when do hitmen moonlight? Killing people is a profession to be taken seriously. There’s no crying in baseball and crime, so Frank does not want to hear that Steven is losing his edge, doesn’t want to kill anymore, Annie’s death, and the problem of deciphering Percival’s psyche.

THE SUICIDE THEORY is a true, smart thriller that only gets cleverer as it goes along. The film’s many twists and turn are not plot devices to move the story along but puzzle pieces that eventually perfectly fit.

To continue summarizing the plot would be a spoiler. Just consider seeing this Australian film in a theater or finding THE SUICIDE THEORY on VOD. The director is one to watch as Hollywood discovers his dark, “existential” POV.

At first, I thought Mouzakis was an unlikely actor for a starring role, but he becomes enthralling as the film progresses. The director, Dru Brown, lavishes attention on his star. Mouzakis, with a receding hairline and bags under his eyes, actually becomes handsome.

You can see when a director has not gotten along with his star. God help the actor or actress that is rude to the crew. A star’s key light could be off just a tad, a wrinkle on the shirt, the obvious highlighting on the face, and an actor’s short legs suddenly become noticeable.

Never agree to a walking-down-the-street with the camera behind you scene.

Mouzakis has a terrific co-star in Cain, who has the more difficult role as a depressed gay man without the style gene. Yet Cain adds dimensions to his character – a sly glee at being a difficult victim and at times a co-conspirator.

Recognition should also go to cinematographer Dan Macarthur, who creates a sensual aura around Mouzakis and gives the entire film a gritty and naturalistic, lived-in feel.

The screenplay by Joseph J. Kospiah is smart and works as a psychological thriller. We love hitman movies and this one shows a killer hanging on to his archetypal structure as an unfeeling, ruthless killer.

THE SUICIDE THEORY, an Australian thriller hits theaters & VOD on July 10th.

Member of Boadcast Film Critics Association: www.bfca.org

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society:www.lvfcs.org

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at masauu@aol.com.

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