The Memory of a Killer

The Memory of a Killer

Directed by Erik Van Looy. Starring Koen De Bouw, Jan Decleir, Werner De Smedt, Geert Van Rampelberg, Jo De Meyere, Hilde De Baerdemaeker. (2003, R, 118 min.)

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Sept. 23, 2005

Also known as The Alzheimer Case, this Belgian film tells the story of a hitman who is losing his memory. Like the hero of Memento, Angelo Ledda (Decleir) has taken to writing important notes to himself on his arm. Yet he knows he has a job from which there’s no retirement, so he accepts another job but balks from committing the deed when he realizes one of his targets is a 12-year-old girl. Even a contract killer has certain standards. It turns out that this girl is the same one seen in the film’s opening sequence: A police sting operation takes down a child-sex operation in which the girl’s father sells her to all comers. The movie has the shape of a police procedural and is based on a novel by Jef Geeraerts. Eric Vincke (De Bouw), the detective who posed as the sex procurer in the sting, is also on the case of a string of seemingly related murders that ultimately link him up with Ledda. The entire movie winds through the series of murders in which the cops are always a few minutes behind Ledda, and Ledda has gone rogue and is now settling scores on his own (even though the reasons for his actions remain cloaked). Decleir brings a quiet dignity to this hitman with his own moral code and receding memory. And as is common in these sorts of films, an uncommon understanding develops between the cop and his quarry. The twists and turns make The Memory of a Killer intriguing to watch for its entire two hours, and director Van Looy employs lots of jacked-up visual techniques (jump cuts, swish edits, etc.) that also help keep the audience rapt. Winner of multiple Belgian awards and a box-office hit at home, The Memory of a Killer should translate well for American audiences. The movie is tightly wound and expertly unraveled, resulting in a thriller that you’ll remember – unlike the hitman Ledda.

More Erik Van Looy Films
The Loft
Five married men share a penthouse loft in which an unidentified woman turns up dead.

William Goss, Feb. 6, 2015

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
Peter O'Toole Archives Land at HRC
Hello, Mr. Chips
Peter O'Toole archives acquired by UT's Harry Ransom Center

April 22, 2017

God Knows Where I Am

April 21, 2017


The Memory of a Killer, Erik Van Looy, Koen De Bouw, Jan Decleir, Werner De Smedt, Geert Van Rampelberg, Jo De Meyere, Hilde De Baerdemaeker

This content has not been formatted for this window size.
Please increase the size of your browser window, or revisit this page on a mobile device.
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)