The Austin Chronicle

Killing Zoe

Rated R, 96 min. Directed by Roger Avery. Starring Eric Stoltz, Julie Delpy, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Tai Thai, Bruce Ramsey, Kario Salem, Salvator Xurev.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Sept. 16, 1994

Quentin Tarantino sans the witty dialogue. Basically a straightforward French bank heist film, Killing Zoe is the directorial debut of Roger Avery, Tarantino's longtime pal and co-writer (Reservoir Dogs, True Romance). Stoltz is Zed, an American safecracker called to Paris by old crony Eric (Anglade) to assist in a large, seemingly well-thought-out bank job. His first night there, Zed meets -- and falls in love with -- Zoe (Delpy), a pouty-lipped prostitute with a heart of… well, maybe not gold, but you get the idea. When Eric shows up at Zed's hotel room, he promptly kicks the tearful hooker out and tells Zed they're off “to see the real Paris.” Apparently “the real Paris,” consists of doing a lot of smack and liquor and hanging around dingy little jazz clubs. Zed is reluctant to participate at first, but eventually gives in to the gang's peer pressure which results in a seething hangover the next morning. When the heist finally goes down, it's a fiasco on par with Dog Day Afternoon: Eric turns out to be a homicidal maniac, offing customers and tellers and cops left and right, and guess who has a day job at the bank? It's Zoe, of course, and it's up to Zed to rearrange his priorities tout de suite if he ever wants to sleep with her again (and he does, of course… he's practically sweating testosterone, just like Avery's film). For all the hype, Killing Zoe is essentially a paean to previous genre films, with the killer's lust for heroin being the only new wrinkle. Lots of blood, bullets, and body parts, but not much else. For his part, Stoltz appears to be playing an amalgam of the last ten characters he essayed, but Anglade keeps the film more or less afloat with his twisted, hyper-violent portrayal of a crook on the edge of madness. Nothing really new here, but not as bad as it could have been. Still, I'm waiting for Tarantino's Pulp Fiction to beat me senseless. Avery's film didn't even make me flinch.

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