Review: Killing Them Softly

Andrew Dominik’s worst movie so still one of the best movies ever. I watched this one incredibly, unbelievably, stoned. Killing Them Softly is apparently some kind of commentary on the 2008 economic crash, though I have never quite deduced what it was trying to say about it. It’s structured like a stage play so the plot is driven almost entirely by the dialogue, but the tension Dominik builds in these exchanges is extremely palpable, almost unbearable at times. There’s a memorable scene where a piece of shit gangster henchmen, stupefied by heroin, unwittingly and incrementally reveals to his accomplice something that the accomplice slowly realizes will mean their doom.

Watch this back to back with Iceman if you want to see how Ray Liotta is the most underestimated actor of all time. I have never seen anyone play soft and hard at the same time like he does. James Gandolfini is similarly astonishing as an aging hitman having a nervous breakdown. I watched this movie shortly after his death and my suspicion is that the nearness of one’s mortality tends to inform performances such as these. It gave me an ominous feeling.

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