2 January 2008 | gradyharp
Film Noir: A Dark Comedy with Some Major Statements to Make
Kyle Bergersen wrote and directed this very strange comedic film noir, a movie that didn't get a lot of attention in its theatrical release but that is gaining a following in the DVD format. It is smart, clever, weird, and very well made. Bergersen has the ability to take a rather silly story to reveal a lot of important questions about education, capital punishment, prison life, and the delicate balance between humanity and inhumanity! LOVE COMES TO THE EXECUTIONER works.
Heck Prigusivac (Jonathan Tucker) is a fresh graduate form college, having majored in Latin and Romance Languages, who returns to his small hometown where his ditsy alcoholic mother Miriam (Christine Ebersole) struggles with her addiction and with the fact that her son Chick (Jeremy Renner) sits on Death Row in the neighboring prison. Heck lands a job teaching Latin to the inmates, but with the proviso that he also accept the job as Closer (or Executioner). Heck adjusts to the strange situation and manages to learn the trade of capital punishment by lethal injection. He confronts his estranged brother Chick on death row and the two have word battles about their relationship AND the fact that Chick's ex-girlfriend Dori Dumchovic (Ginnifer Goodwin) is the first female to sit on death row a few cells down form Chick. Heck and Dori flirt and Heck 'falls' for Dori, actually impregnating her in the confines of the prison. Heck manages to become a popular Latin teacher with the inmates, but has some psychological stress as the Closer - especially as the time for Heck to execute Dori approaches. Through a clever trick that backfires, Heck agrees to help Dori escape the prison so that the two can raise their 'child', but Chick's streetwise abilities alter the plan, and love doesn't exactly stay around for the executioner! Tucker, Renner, and Goodwin play the script straight and manage to draw us into their individual plights and dilemmas. The cinematography by Jimmy Lindsey keeps this 'interior' film exciting, even during the rather gross execution scenes. It is a strange way to present anti-capital punishment information, along side the death of the teaching of Latin and the Romance languages as markers for civility, that makes this film worth watching. It is a notch above the similar stories that dumb down the audience. Grady Harp