Julie Delpy, Eric Stoltz, and Jean-Hugues Anglade in Killing Zoe (1993)


(director/writer: Roger Avary; cinematographer: Tom Richmond; editor: Kathryn Himoff; music: Tomandandy; cast: Eric Stoltz (Zed), Julie Delpy (Zoe), Jean-Hugues Anglade (Eric), Gary Kemp (Oliver), Tai Thai (Francois), Bruce Ramsay (Ricardo), Kario Salem (Jean); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Samuel Hadida; October Films; 1993-United States/France-in English and French with English subtitles)

A bummer.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This thriller about an American joining a Parisian gang in a violent bank hold-up on Bastille Day is a bummer. The first-time director and also screenwriter Roger Avary filmed it in a pretentious arty style and made it derivative of a host of recent thrillers. The 27-year-old Avary was co-screenwriter of Pulp Fiction and covers the same territory here storywise. But even if he’s just as good showing blood, his dialogue lacks the interesting quirky touches of his close friend Tarantino’s film and his filmmaking ability remains questionable.

Zed (Stoltz) is an American safecracker just released from prison who has not been to Paris for 11 years. He is invited by his old Parisian pal Eric (Anglade), from their student days together when they were involved in petty crimes, to come and participate in a bank robbery. Eric has degenerated into a near mental case because of AIDS and his drug habit, and seems not too reliable. Soon after his arrival Zed meets a student who is a part-time prostitute named Zoe (Julie Delpy), who naturally has a heart of gold and he falls for her because as the Yank says “Sometimes you just need the honesty and security of a whore.” But Zed’s romantic interest in the sweet hooker is interrupted when Eric barges into their hotel room and tosses her out without a peep from Zed. Eric insists he bond with the other gang members, as they go out on the town for a tour of the underworld and underground Parisian haunts for a night of drinking, heroin mainlining, and other debaucheries.

The next day, the day of the robbery, the gang is hung over, but the show must go on. Naturally, the hold-up goes wrong and turns into a bloody hostage situation. The hopped up Eric goes psycho and begins a machine gun killing spree that was as much fun to watch as the scene of the junkies mainlining. To complicate things further, Zed is surprised that the ambitious Zoe works there as a teller and is being held hostage.

Bereft of any wit, purpose, good filmmaking sensibilities, the sleazy thriller moves along at a fast pace as it ends as just another forgettable mindless action flick. But one that was a little more depressing than the usual.