FROM NEW YORKER FILMS

newyorkerfilms.info

FROM NEW YORKER FILMS

NEW

NEW YORKER FILMS

FROM

OFFICIAL BELGIUM ENTRY

ACADEMY AWARDS ®

OFFICIAL SELECTION

TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL

“WITHOUT QUESTION, THE BEST

CRIME MOVIE OF THE YEAR–AND

ONE OF THE BEST MOVIES OF

ANY SORT NOW PLAYING.”

-Richard Schickel, TIME MAGAZINE

AN ERIK VAN LOOY FILM

www.newyorkerfilms.com

One of Belgium’s 10 top-grossing films of all time. Angelo Ledda is an international hit man who has been

hired to terminate two people. Unknown to those around him, Ledda has advanced symptoms of Alzheimer’s,

and the double murder will likely be his last.This gripping, stylishly filmed and fast-moving thriller is wonderfully

acted and its complexities of plot keep audiences guessing.

BELGIUM • 2005 • 120 mins • Color • In Dutch and French with English subtitles


FILM REVIEW

Friday, August 26, 2005

MICHAEL WILMINGTON

★★★H

Jan Decleir—a Belgian actor who has the rugged, bitterly

savvy demeanor of great gangster movie stars like

Humphrey Bogart or Lee Marvin—plays a hit man afflicted

with Alzheimer's disease in the new Belgian thriller "The

Memory of a Killer." It's very close to a great performance.

With his aging-swinger looks (a little like crooner Tony

Bennett's), natty clothes and a grim, unvarying expression that

reads like a death sentence, Decleir, 59, is a fantastic crime

thriller protagonist. He helps make "Memory," adapted by

director Erik Van Looy from the novel by Jef Geeraerts, into a

sometimes stunning modern Euro-noir.

As Angelo Ledda, a high-priced hired assassin and Alzheimer's

victim who turns the tables on his employers, the actor conveys

both annihilating anguish and cold-blooded brutality with

unnerving force. Oscillating between those extremes—snapping

a victim's neck and gobbling down his medication as his memory

splinters into bits—Ledda becomes eerily, scarily moving.

The movie itself is as slick, fast and terrifyingly violent as a

top-grade American crime thriller, but a lot smarter than most.

It's built around Ledda's dilemma, initially caused by the

investigation of a child-prostitution ring in Antwerp by two

young cop protagonists: sharp sleuth Eric Vincke (Koen De

Bouw) and his hard-guy partner, Freddy Verstuyft (Werner De

Smedt).

Despite the illness he's been hiding, Ledda—a Belgian-born

hired killer from Marseilles— takes on one last job in Antwerp,

a double contract pressed on him by his longtime employer

Seynaeve (Gene Bervoets). The first hit, on a local politician

connected to the ring (Lucas Van den Eynde), comes off

quickly. But when Ledda discovers that his second slated victim

is a 12-year-old girl—a child hooker named Brigitte testifying

for the police—he balks, because, among other reasons, he was

a victim of child abuse himself.

This refusal makes Ledda a target for his own boss and for

the well-connected clique of politicians and businessmen

involved in the prostitution ring. So Ledda goes after them. As

he tracks them down, going higher and higher up into the

"protected" realms of Belgian government and aristocracy, the

killer is tracked himself by Vincke and Verstuyft.

There's an intense, wayward pleasure in watching this movie's

upper-class, supposedly well-guarded brothel masters, crooks

and killers get theirs at the hands of a true pro. But "Memory,"

like the amnesia noir "Memento," is also laced with another

constant anxiety: the degeneration of his Alzheimer's hovering

like a specter over Ledda's bloody war.

The story, directed with surpassing slickness, skill and high

energy by Van Looy, is told from three angles: the cops', the

crooks' and Ledda's. The crooks are properly smug, sadistic and

loathsome, and the cops are a likable, handsome twosome who

suggest American movie prototypes. The smoother, more liberal

Vincke, who looks like Ethan Hawke, lives in a condo that

resembles a Van Gogh print gallery, and the rougher-hewn,

angrier and more right-wing Verstuyft, a Chris Penn type,

gobbles sweets, drives fast and shoots awesomely straight.

But it's Ledda and his trapped, bloody trajectory that give

"Memory" both tension and near-tragedy. Van Looy directs it in a

very flashy style and it's full of good performances, crisply staged

action, tilted-angle frames and wire-taut editing. He lets his

imaginative cinematographer, Danny Elsen, drench the screen in

darkness and cold light and he uses jump-cuts reminiscent of

Godard's "Breathless" both to give the movie a driving, reckless

energy and, at times, to suggest Ledda's disease, the way his

memory is fragmenting and falling apart.

"Memory of a Killer" like all top noirs, has style, a riveting

narrative pace and a chillingly dark world-view that keep you

hooked right from the opening shots. Once you see Ledda's

eyes, intent on the kill or blank with sudden panic, they'll haunt

your memory too. (excerpt)

THE MEMORY OF A KILLER

Directed by Erik Van Looy; written (in Flemish and French, with English

subtitles) by Carl Joos and Mr. Van Looy, based on the novel "The

Alzheimer Case" by Jef Geeraerts; director of photography, Danny Elsen;

edited by Philippe Ravoet; music by Stephen Warbeck; art director, Johan

Van Assche; produced by Erwin Provoost and Hilde De Laere. Running

time: 120 minutes. This film is rated R.

WITH: Koen De Bouw (Eric Vincke), Werner De Smedt (Freddy

Verstuyft), Jan Decleir (Angelo Ledda), Hilde De Baerdemaeker (Linda

De Leenheer), Geert Van Rampelberg (Tom Coemans), Jo De Meyere

(Baron Henri Gustave De Haeck) and Patrick Descamps (Gilles Resnais).

Available now in35mm, and DVD/VHS Public Performance (February) to non-theatrical customers (all dates subject to theatrical approval).

CALL NEW YORKER FILMS TOLL FREE: 1-877-247-6200

85 Fifth Avenue, 11th floor, New York, NY 10003 • Tel: (212) 645-4600 • Fax: (212) 645-3232 • nontheatrical@newyorkerfilms.com

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines