Friday, March 14, 2014

One bizarre tale of internet deception: Andrew Douglas/Mike Walden U WANT ME 2 KILL HIM?

Based on a true-life tale by Judy Bachrach, published in Vanity Fair magazine back in 2005, U WANT ME 2 KILL HIM has been brought to the screen, in 2011, by director Andrew Douglas from a screenplay by Mike Walden. The intervening years have perhaps not been too kind to a story like this -- that depends so much on our former rather than our current and increasingly sophisticated understanding of the internet and its many uses for both good and bad. Consequently, although you may fairly quickly latch on to the suspicion that the movie "hero," a high school student named Mark (well-portrayed by Jamie Blackley), is being "played," you'll probably want to stick around to learn exactly who is playing him -- and why. (Craig Lucas did all this -- and better -- a few years earlier in The Dying Gaul.)

Director Douglas (at left) keeps a relatively firm hand on the proceedings, taking us back & forth between characters -- some real and some not so -- beginning at pretty much the end and circling back and then further forward until the mystery is solved. The screenplay by Mr. Walden is certainly adequate and the dialog good enough to keep us watching and wondering. The picture the movie paints of modern-day Britain is ugly enough to seem real and then some: a society where narcis-sism runs rampant in adults and their children.

In one of the first scenes in the film, Mark (above) and his maybe girlfriend have just finished having sex when her other boyfriend, an older man, arrives. For sport, the girl screams and then pretends to have been assaulted by Mark, who must run for his life from the other older and stronger fellow. Some friend she is!

But that's OK because Mark himself has a real girlfriend online: a poor but pretty blond named Rachel whose family is in a witness protection program. Rachel, who happens to have her own abusive boyfriend, convinces Mark to look after her brother, John (a nice job by Toby Regbo, above), a classmate of Mark's who is constantly bullied and abused by other classmates. Mark says sure, and a new friendship is born.

Pretty soon everyone including MI-5 gets involved in all this, and poor Mark is up to his ears in complications and would-be heroism. A horrendous stabbing occurs, lots of blood is shed, a pretty blond police lieutenant (Downton Abbey's Joanne Froggart, above) comes on the scene and tries her hand at solving the mystery of "why."

If you've lasted this long, you'll probably stick with the movie. As many of these internet seduction films as I've already seen, I think I can safely predict that this one's different. If you didn't read the original Vanity Fair article, then honey -- you ain't seen nuttin' yet.

U Want Me 2 Kill Him? -- supposedly from Tribeca Films, but if you can find the film on Tribeca's website, you're more proficient than I -- opens in Los Angeles today, Friday, March 14, at Laemmle's NoHo 7, and according my sources, it will not be opening here in NYC. But maybe there will be a DVD eventually. Meanwhile, the film is also available on VOD nationwide, so home viewing, at least, should be no problem.

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