Attractively photographed but haphazardly written and shapelessly directed, SWEET KILLING veers from mordant comedy to detective thriller to revenge melodrama without ever finding the proper sophisticated tone. Its only true accomplishment is in creating a wife (Andrea Ferreol) so needy
that any husband would almost be justified in getting rid of her.
Buried in drudge work and trapped in a burdensome marriage, Adam Cross (Anthony Higgins) seeks refuge in his comic book collection. One night, overdosed on mistreatment by his boss, Mrs. Devon (Kathleen Fee), Adam is inspired by a pulp adventure he's reading and concocts a fool-proof plot to
eliminate his smothering mate. Inventing a fictitious client named Zargo, Adam establishes alibis with friends and strangers on the evening of the crime. After crushing his wife's skull with the assistance of a Rube Goldbergesque, Buddha-planter device, Adam drives to the fake Zargo's address and
induces a sultry stranger Eve (Leslie Hope) to allow him to use her phone. Although he had only intended to use her to validate his alibi, Adam is soon smitten with this free-thinking vamp.
Immediately suspicious, Detective Garcia (Michael Ironside) smells a hen-pecked rat but can't prove Adam's involvement in his wife's demise. While Adam further arouses Garcia's suspicions by bedding Eve, a real Mr. Zargo (F. Murray Abraham) pops up at Adam's home, moves in, and attempts to
rattle Adam into confessing. The tension sabotages his affair with Eve, as Garcia applies pressure through Zargo, who's actually a police plant named Pinter. When Eve is electrocuted, Adam discovers her body. Despondent, he attempts suicide but fails when Zargo/Pinter drinks a drug-laced nightcap
Adam had intended for himself. Subsequently disguising himself as Zargo and making sure Eve's nosy neighbor spots him skulking about, Adam disposes of the snitch's body to forestall further police inquiry. Having stymied Garcia's investigation, Adam is free to pursue an attractive new neighbor.
It's hard to know how to respond to such a mess of missed connections. Edging perilously close to camp, SWEET KILLING toys with the notion of developing a comic approach to the instant divorce--homicide--before shifting into a traditional crime thriller and then detouring into a theatrical
comedy of menace. When filmmakers call a character "Pinter," invoking that writer's patented brand of pregnant, oblique drama, they are setting a hard task for themselves; needless to say, this picture is not in the same league as films like ACCIDENT or THE SERVANT. The film is chock-a-block with
dangling implications and unexplained incidents, and never establishes the necessary confrontational edge between Garcia and Adam, Adam and Pinter, and Pinter and Garcia. Imitating Pinter, ripping off Dostoyevsky, and occasionally saluting LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, SWEET KILLING fails to blend its
incompatible elements into a kicky thriller. (Nudity, profanity, violence, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: R
- Review: Attractively photographed but haphazardly written and shapelessly directed, SWEET KILLING veers from mordant comedy to detective thriller to revenge melodrama without ever finding the proper sophisticated tone. Its only true accomplishment is in creating a… (more)