Essential Killing (2010)

April 24th, 2021
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Jerzy Skolimowski | Cast: Vincent Gallo, Emmanuelle Seigner | 88 mins Cert 15

Jerzy Skolimowski won several awards at Venice for this stunningly atmospheric tale of a Taliban soldier captured by the Americans and sent on rendition to a snow-bound northern European country. After evading his captors he sets off against a frozen landscape in the middle of nowhere and begins a battle to stay alive.

Vincent Gallo gives an emotional performance as the man surviving against the odds made all the more intense by it being entirely wordless.  Luck is continually on his side as he avoids re-capture by savage tracker dogs. He endures a fall into an ice-bound lake and a set-to with a chainsaw-wielding forester and subsists on insects and a raw fish snatched from the hand of a surprised angler.

There is no political statement here simply a tale of one man’s fight against the elements spurred on by faith and sheer desperation to survive. A suggestive romance spices up the narrative at one point, involving Emmanuelle Seigner. This is a compelling arthouse road movie  that seethes with an undercurrent of steely tension. Adam Sikora’s sublime camerawork gives the piece a resonant poetic quality. Meredith Taylor ©

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