Film Review: DEAD IN A WEEK: OR YOUR MONEY BACK (UK 2018) **

Dead in a Week: Or Your Money Back Poster
Trailer

After his ninth unsuccessful attempt on his own life, a young man outsources his suicide to an ageing assassin. “If you’re serious about ending it, you need professional help”

Director:

Tom Edmunds

Writer:

Tom Edmunds

DEAD IN A WEEK (OR YOUR MONEY BACK) follows the sad life of William (Aneurin Barnard, the Welsh actor from DUNKIRK), a failed writer who has tried to take his life 9 times without much success.  These attempts are sad, not because they failed but because they are shown briefly on screen as attempts at comedy but simply failing at getting any laughs.  The hanging results in ceiling breakage.  The electrocution leads to a blackout.  Yes, not funny.  And neither is the rest of the film.  The premise might have looked good on paper but what transpires is only mildly funny comedy at best and a whole lot of predictable fare.  

William hires a contract killer who needs him to be his last killing to make his quota.   The contract killer, Leslie (Tom Wilkinson) gives William his calling card at the bridge where he attempt his 10th suicide.  William jumps off but no prizes in guessing that he lands on a passing boat below.  William signs a contract for his own death.  The predictable catch is that he falls in love and his next book looks like a success.  So, he now wants to live.  But the killer is not going to stop what he is paid to do.

The worst thing about the film is when it attempts to offer life lessons advice to the audience.  The speech by William just before he is about to be shot is something  everyone could do without.  The contract killer, Leslie is supposed to be super efficient so the scenes in which he shoots and keeps missing William is totally unbelievable.  The running joke of Leslie’s wife supporting her husband in his job  (“Maybe this will help”, she tells him at one point handing him a kitchen knife, sending him off to work) outstays its welcome.

Punch lines like: “Killing is the only thing I live for,” as uttered by the hit man is typically expected from a film like this.  Or “I am an assassin, that is what I do, that is what I am.”  The script also has to resort to foul language, a sure sign of desperation.  The Ennio Morricone-type soundtrack (Clint Eastwood used to play similar lone ‘Man with no Name’ killers)  is an obvious choice for music.

The Aki Kaurismaki film I HIRED A CONTRACT KILLER, by inevitable comparison, that treaded similar territory is more effective on a different level.  Kaurismaki’s film was deadpan comedy which means  that one could watch the weirdly funny film and still not laugh.  The film was depressing but I have seen it three times.  The closing credits have the cheek to claim that DEAD IN A WEEK is based on an original idea by writer/director Tom Edmunds.  Both films has the protagonist change his kind and both have them falling in love.  CONTRACT KILLER had him fall in love with a flower girl with added a nice touch.

The film has an odd rather original ending that does not qualify as a Hollywood ending.  Unfortunately it makes no sense at all.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-HKbDkqpqY

1997 Movie Review: WILDE, 1997 – Starring: Stephen Fry, Jude Law

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WILDEWILDE, 1997
Movie Reviews

Directed by Brian Gilbert

Cast: Stephen Fry, Jude Law, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael Sheen, Tom Wilkinson, Gemma Jones, Jennifer Ehle, Judy Parfit
Review by Stefan Leverton

SYNOPSIS:

The story of Oscar Wilde, genius, poet, playwright and the First Modern Man. The self-realisation of his homosexuality caused Wilde enormous torment as he juggled marriage, fatherhood and responsibility with his obsessive love for Lord Alfred Douglas, nicknamed Bosie. After legal action instigated by Bosie’s father, the mad Marquess of Queensberry, Wilde refused to flee the country and was sentenced to two years at hard labour by the courts of an intolerant Victorian society.

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REVIEW:

Wilde is the biopic telling the infamous story of Oscar Wilde, one of Ireland’s and the Victorian era’s greatest playwright and poet. Above that he represented the rise in the appreciation for all things aesthetic, fashion and style as well as being one of the wittiest historical figures that I can think of. His life wasn’t all plaudits though, and he courted controversy to the full.

The film begins with Wilde returning from America, marrying Constance Wilde and having two boys, Cyril and Vyvyan. Then it begins, not wanting to over-state anything, his rise and fall. Taking the theatre world by storm, Wilde’s plays illuminate the west end and he becomes the toast of the town. With an invigorated zeal for socialising, Wilde acquaints himself with all the lavishness his success affords him.

This ignites a spark within Wilde, especially after becoming familiar with Robbie Ross. After their meeting Wilde’s ‘outs’ himself amongst the homosexual community, and in doing so becomes the person he may’ve always known he was. Then the shift moves from his work to his personal life. An intense affair rises between Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas, nicknamed Bosie. Bosie is drawn to the artful and wise Wilde, while Wilde is drawn to the youthful pretty Bosie.

Their relationship has its ups and downs, mainly due to Bosie’s impetuousness, but ultimately has its dramatic anchor in the film as in Wilde’s life by being the scandal that brought shame upon Wilde’s family and indeed his professional reputation. Bosie’s father, the Mad Marquess of Queensberry, files a lawsuit against Wilde and his lewd illegal behaviour.

The ensuing court case, is widely publicised and the witch hunt that surrounds it sees the steadfast Wilde prosecuted for his actions and sentenced to four years hard labour after refusing to take exile. Then we witness Wilde’s decline, removed of his style in gaol. Even on his release when he takes refuge in Europe his healthy withers and Wilde dies resolute but very much alone in Paris, 1900.

As a fan of Wilde’s work, I feel this film does tremendous justice to the man, played with sheer perfection by Stephen Fry. Fry said of the role that it was the one he was born to play, and he is in no way over stating that fact. And the filmmakers have done a wonderful job of adding to the creation by giving Fry just the right appearance as a young-twenty-something but also as the broken-aged-man Wilde becomes during his incarceration. And special mention should go to Jude law who, aside from looking good in the role, acts as a great folly to Wilde, being that they are at different stages of their lives.

The only criticism of the film is that those who aren’t familiar with Wilde may struggle to be enraptured by the drama of the film which never really peaks. I think that to be slightly mis-guided as Wilde himself fully understood what was going on, there was no outrage from him, though he did stand resolutely and argued his case to spite all that, though sadly without success. What stands is the memory of such outrageous persecution from the justice system and society to persecute someone, when today that wouldn’t even enter the consciousness.

WILDE, 1997

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