(Review by Justin Decloux)
Black humor is a tricky proposition to pull off correctly. It demands the audience to wallow in the misery of others. Not only that, but it expects them to find the suffering to be funny. Can you muster a smile at the ridiculous reason that someone would want to violently kill themselves (and will)?
Doctor Krueger (Aurélien Recoing) doesn't want his patients to kill themselves. Sure, he runs a suicide clinic, but his real goal in life is to talk his patients OUT of checking themselves into the great beyond...but in ten years...he hasn't succeeded once. And until one of them sees the value in life, he'll continue to give them their poison and allow them to drift painless away for the last time. His patients include a young man who's been trying to kill himself since he was seven, a retired singer, a crippled man who's donating his entire fortune to keep it away from his step-mother, and...Saul Rubinek?
Shot in stark black and white and completely hand held, the aesthetics of KILL ME PLEASE are stripped down to its barest elements. It's almost as if the filmmakers are saying "Death isn't funny, so we're not going to present it in a funny fashion, but hey, we still want to make you laugh." From the grim first ten minutes (which include a fairly violent wrist cutting) I completely expected a bleak joke-less affair. It was obvious they were going to squeeze uncomfortable chuckles out the sheer bleakness of the situations. Yet, as the film rolled on I was pleasantly surprised to find the patients brought out to the forefront and given a chance to shine. We get to know everyone intimately, even if most of them are pretty loathsome individuals, and when their respective ends finally come about, we genuinely care to see how it turns out. It's all very low key, but it works because everything tightens uncomfortably till a smile is forced out upon your lips. You honestly feel the pain of Doctor Krueger as he tries to talk people out of something they've already decided - yet you can't help but laugh when they tell him that they want to die in a re-creation of the Vietnam War. The closest approximation from a humor standpoint (but done in a different stylistic frame work) would be the Serial Killer Faux Documentary MAN BITES DOG.
It's difficult to talk about KILL ME PLEASE without discussing its last thirty minutes. At that point, the tone of the film shifts radically - still bleak, but more gag orientated - and the entire things ends in shockingly bloody fashion. Don't expect the film to keep a monotonous pace for its entire narrative.
KILL ME PLEASE is funny. It may not be the funny that causes one to laugh out, or even to chuckle, but it is the kind that wiggles into your brain and stays there, dormant, without every allowing you to forget it.