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Review: The Kill Room. A privilege critique by privileged people

  • Release year: 2023
  • Director: Nicol Paone.
  • Producers: Jordan Beckerman, Anne Clements, Jon Keeyes, Bill Kenwright, Jordan Yale Levine, Nicol Paone, William Rosenfeld, Dannielle Thomas, Uma Thurman and Jason Weinberg.
  • Screenplay by: Jonathan Jacobson.
  • Cinematographer: Bartosz Nalazek.
  • Music by: Jason Soudah and Jessica Rose Weiss.

Synopsis: An art dealer with great debts teams up with an organised crime boss to launder his money by selling his hitman’s paintings to him.

Shotgun Commentary: It’s a fun “good bad guys” story that also acts as a satire about privilege brought to you by privileged people.

Patrice is a blond woman, she is wearing red lipstick and pulling her sunglasses down a bit to wink. Frame from the trailer of The Kill Room.
Fig. 1. Patrice (Uma Thurman) winking at Anton (Tom Pezinka) at the art gallery.
Source: The Kill Room (Nicol Paone, 2023).

Review

Firstly, the elephant in the room should be addressed: Maya Hawke. It is quite funny that they choose a movie that highlights the idiocy of people with privilege to so blatantly display an act of nepotism. Famous actors and actresses are privileged by nature, but the appearance of Maya Hawke in the film is quite rich, especially considering she plays one of the hard working artists getting screwed over by privilege.

Grace is a young lady, she is smiling tightly. Frame from the trailer of The Kill Room.
Fig. 2. Grace (Maya Hawke) at her exhibition opening.
Source: The Kill Room (Nicol Paone, 2023).

The best bit for me, is when her character, Grace, starts yelling at Reggie (Joe Manganiello) “You are a straight white man making fucking boring straight white man art. You are making a killing in the art world by making safely abstract fucking wall decor”. The fact that they hired a nepo baby to yell at a guy about his privilege and how detrimental it is to other artists is kinda hilarious to see. The irony is delicious, although if it wasn’t done on purpose I’m kinda hurt that anyone could think that the audience wouldn’t notice the film doing exactly what it is criticising.

Grace yelling furious.
Fig. 3. Grace (Maya Hawke) yelling at Reggie (Joe Manganiello) about his privilege. Ironic, I know. Source: The Kill Room (Nicol Paone, 2023).

Now that the big issue has been addressed, it is also fair to say that The Kill Room is a pretty entertaining film. While not very original, it is light and fun. Besides, despite the criticism of the art world and the hypocrisy of the higher classes being super exploited themes, I never get tired of them, so it’s a job well done for me regardless.

Great artists, average roles

Gordon (Samuel L. Jackson) felt like a combination of previous roles by Jackson, like the bad guy with unexpected cultural choices, from Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), and the antihero boss who appears from time to time to tell the protagonist how screwed he is and how bad their ideas are, from xXx (2002).

Gordon is a black man with a beige beanie and a blue and white stripped shirt. He is smiling at a friend off camera.
Fig. 4. Gordon (Samuel L Jackson) smiling at Reggie in his bakery.
Source: The Kill Room (Nicol Paone, 2023).

Uma Thurman’s Patrice is quite fun and likeable enough to root for her. It is not a particularly original archetype, but Thurman gives Patrice a touch of her own that is enjoyable to watch. Same goes for Manganiello really, Reggie is a passionate hitman who channels his frustrations through the paintings he makes and, while he’s definitely not the first killer artist, he is quite charismatic and interesting for a guy with the most foreseeable character development possible.

Patrice and Reggie, a tall, black haired man, look seriously at Grace, who is off camera.
Fig. 5. Patrice and Reggie listening to Grace’s rant at Patrice’s gallery.
Source: The Kill Room (Nicol Paone, 2023).

Additionally, I cannot stress enough how wonderful it is that Patrice and Reggie have a great chemistry but no romantic attraction whatsoever. It is so strange for a film with this type of story to not fall into the cliché romance that seems to be compulsory for the genre. This change makes the experience way more pleasing and adds some originality into the story.

Stunning outfits

Lastly, I’d like to mention the incredible work of the wardrobe department. The outfits are not so overly extravagant that will take any of the attention from the story, and yet they are tasteful enough to leave a mark on the viewer. Granted, I’m a sucker for suits and overalls, but all the outfits were absolutely fantastic. Having so many stylish outfits to look up made up a little bit for the nepo elephant in the room. Nope, I’m never letting that go.

Grace looks serious at Patrice, who is smiling at her.
Fig. 6. Patrice talking to Grace at Patrice’s gallery.
Source: The Kill Room (Nicol Paone, 2023).

Advice to take from this movie:

  • If you want to pull some strings to get your family hired somewhere, don’t make it so obvious. Or at least pick a movie with a different theme than privilege, people are not as dumb as you think.
  • If you are in charge of an event, one blue pill might be one more than you should be taking, and in case you’re wondering, two are definitely too much.
  • If you want to get your cut of the deal and to avoid carrying heavy stuff, maybe don’t leave the room amidst negotiations.
A woman with asian features and huge round reading glasses looking worried.
Fig. 7. Mae (Jennifer Kim) is left behind to carry a heavy sculpture on her own.
Source: The Kill Room (Nicol Paone, 2023).

What’s your take? Did you enjoy the film? Are you like me and kept watching just because the cast is so good? Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below or leave a message in my contact page! For more reviews and cinema-related articles check out the rest of my blog! 😀

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