In London, a French office worker (Jean-Pierre Léaud) is fired and finds little reason to go on living, hiring a contract killer to end his life. In his road movie Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989), Aki Kaurismäki found a more international outlook, and he continues on that path in this comedy that’s set in Britain but feels thoroughly, disarmingly, Finnish. The director also connects with cinema history by casting Antoine Doinel of the French New Wave in the lead. The plot is familiar from many other movies, but it’s part of the fun in this well-paced, short film. Kenneth Colley as the killer who has his own issues to deal with is a welcome addition.
1990-Finland-Sweden. 79 min. Color. Produced, written, directed and edited by Aki Kaurismäki. Cast: Jean-Pierre Léaud (Henri Boulanger), Margi Clarke (Margaret), Kenneth Colley (The Killer), Trevor Bowen… Joe Strummer.
Last word: “[Léaud] was my hero as an actor, when I was a young film buff. He was the best! Maybe five John Waynes or three Robert Ryans match one Jean-Pierre. […] When working with him, I was acting first for him, to show him how he should act. But I in fact was acting him acting, and then he imitated me acting him acting. So it made a whole circle.” (Kaurismäki, “Léaud l’unique”)