Kill Me Three Times

Year: 2014
Production Co: Cargo Entertainment
Director: Kriv Stenders
Writer: James McFarland
Cast: Simon Pegg, Alice Braga, Sullivan Stapleton, Theresa Palmer, Luke Hemsworth, Steve Le Marquand, Bryan Brown

Aussie director Kriv Stenders languished in low budget but very high quality dramas nobody saw (like Blacktown) before commercial success finally hit with Red Dog.

Kill Me Three Times shows the best of his talents from both ends of the spectrum, a black comedy crime thriller that's cleverly scripted and structured, commercial enough to have appeal and yet edgy enough not to be straight multiplex fare.

That probably explains its failure at the box office, although it's not clear why critics took against it so heavily. It's the story of a guy, a girl, a femme fatale, a sap, a sting and a hitman (Simon Pegg) embroiled in amongst it all.

Small town coastal country girl Alice (Alice Braga) is married to the fearsome Jack, but she's in love with the upstanding Dylan. Also in town is the spineless dentist Nathan (Sullivan Stapleton) and his receptionist/lover Lucy (Theresa Palmer), the beautiful but vicious prime mover in a plot to extort money and disappear.

Called in is British professional assassin Charlie (Simon Pegg), hired to dispatch Alice at her nasty husband's request. Problem is that despite his skill, Charlie keeps making a fist of it, making (as the title suggests) three failed attempts on Alice's life.

That's the basic story in a linear sense, but like Pulp Fiction or its many imitators, it's told in a very fractured way that teases details about what's going on at a leisurely pace.

Despite the very distinctive sun-bleached coastal desert setting with the oceanside pub and local accents, it seems to have classic 1940s film noir as its inspiration with characters and tropes lifted straight from The Maltese Falcons and Double Indemnitys of the world.

As such it's not particularly thrilling, bloody or even funny, but the way the story is built and executed is easy to appreciate.

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