I was wandering around the office the other day, during my lunch break, and I started looking at the movies lined up in two small shelves. Among them, in the middle, shone Killing Zoe. A 1994 gold nugget, produced by Quentin Tarantino and Lawrence Bender, and presented by Samuel Hadida.
Julie Delpy had just finished with the Trois Couleurs of Krzysztof Kieslowski, and reached a glowing cinematographic climax at that time. She is Zoe in Roger Avary‘s GenerationX film and she is playing along with Jean-Hugues Anglade and Eric Stoltz.
This was constructed to be an insane creation, and I might consider it a midnight movie, well this is the kind of stuff I want to watch. So I grabbed the motherfucker and I used my lunch break (and a little bit more) to devote myself to this hysterical feature.
Quickly the story; Zed (Eric Stolz) comes back to Paris after eleven years for “business”, in the cab from the airport to the hotel, he is approached by the taxi driver who kindly offered to schedule him a prostitute as a gift for his return; Zoe. They made love while Murnau‘s Nosferatu was on TV (interesting juxtaposition), and of course, chemistry happened. But Eric (Jean-Hugue Anglade) happened too. The old friend of Zed, entered the apartment like a storm, and threw Zoe out of it, and cheered his childhood friend after all these years. We will soon learn that Eric has a plan in mind, he wanted Zed for a bank robbery, that had to happen the day after.
Anyway, the plot is on speed, the scenes are on speed, and the characters are definitely on speed; coke, hashish, heroin, the drug ritual before the d-day. The interesting connection to make here is this one: to persuade Zed to give himself up to drugs the day before their attack, Eric said : “we live life” and “zoe” in greek means “life” therefore: killing zoe = killing life, which is paradoxical and pretty much revelatory, considering what will happen next (but no spoilers).
And in a sort of bonus, we get to know the underground Paris, but never the “real Paris” as Zoe promised Zed to show him. Then we are kindly invited to a jazz club, where you can do drugs, get approached by prostitutes and might order a bottle of wine, with absinthe in it. This lifestyle is pretty much destructive, and you end up stuck in your bubble, floating around pills of all genre, powder of all kind, and needles carrying all sort of diseases, and this is how we learn without surprise that Eric has AIDS. So the guy has nothing to loose diving his face on illicit products and having ideas of robbing banks.
For the french actor, Anglade, his role in Killing Zoe, might be his best performance; a serein psychopath, disconnected from all forms of human empathy, darkly funny and hell he is coherent without being coherent. I was literally flabbergasted by his acting, he left me breathless, and not only was I laughing at his lines, but I was admiring his detachment, and I empathized with what he has become, imagined through what he had to go all these years to end up in a small apartment with four dumb drug addicts. Anglade embodied the character with a nonchalance that seemed almost natural, he found the perfect balance between psychosocial behavior and despair. I believe he was the main character, not Zed or Zoe, but Eric.
Killing Zoe, is sordidly fun, and all this craziness, this halo of insanity makes you trip. Even though the end was predictable, and there were some great issues with light, I enjoyed every other aspects of the movie. A pure B movie.