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A hard hit, this

A hard hit, this
The film opens with snippets of Obama’s ‘Change’ campaign – his rousing speech bit, of how America is what everyone makes of it – droning in the background. A nondescript small town in America and equally nondescript characters pan into the scene. You know instinctively that this is no ordinary Hollywood film. Dark and brooding, the story unfolds, with it the financial dismay that the American values had gotten themselves into.

Director Andrew Dominik pulls no punches back: he sorts his interpretation of George V Higgins’ Cogan’s Trade [that was written in 1974] unapologetically into the contemporary American milieu. Killing Them Softly is edgy and could easily slot itself into film noir hall of fame.

Almost 20 minutes into the film, in saunters Brad Pitt, playing the book’s title character Cogan. He takes the film to the next level with his suave menace and cynicism. Pitt goes all out and is an absolutely delightful bad boy.

Killing Them Softly, which, Pitt’s Cogan says is how he prefers to kill his victims, is all about a gambling den heist gone bad. The act itself, though wrapped tightly in suspense and anticipation, is free of violence. What follows later is violence portrayed in psychedelia. The kind made famous by the likes of Tarantino.

Pitt is hired by the mob with an interest in the gambling den to find the culprits – or scapegoats – so that the business can go back to normal. In many ways, the immediate situation portrayed is a parody of the real life America in crisis. The film gets both subtle and in your face in bringing home the point that capitalism has kicked its own ass. In almost every scene, the director points out America’s newly acquired ‘cut-your-costs’ attitude. Just in case you miss the point, there are televisions tucked in the corners of the bars and hotel rooms that relay speeches of Bush and Obama, taking us through the economic mess that America left in its wake. And then there’s Pitt, who heckles at the notion of one nation and community even as he kills in style [and not so softly]. A must watch.
Jemima Raman

Jemima Raman

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