Bringing new meaning to the term Brits abroad, Dead in France is a heady mix of high style and British irreverence as all manner of characters set out to ruin a hitman’s retirement in this charmingly offensive black comedy.
Having achieved everything he wants out of a long and bloody career, assassin Charles Anderson (Brian A. Levine) is looking to settle down in his luxurious French home. Missing only companionship, Charles hires Lisa, a cleaner with an agenda of her own. Unfortunately, Charles’s peaceful existence is soon ruined when all manner of Brits descend on his quiet life.
With a combination of high stylisation by director Kris McManus and an unwaveringly British sense of humour, Dead in France is as funny as it is brash. The supporting cast forms the most entertaining element of the film, with a whole range of accents and eccentric personalities working well off of each other to create a fulfilling ensemble piece. Between Darren Bransford’s scouse psychotic Denny, Lee Chaney’s charming geezer Simon and Celia Muir’s Essex girl Lisa, Dead in France is populated with funny and exciting characters to enjoy.
Unfortunately, the film is somewhat let down by its lead role. Talented as the writer and producer of the film, Brian A. Levine’s docile and rather obviously portrayed Charles is a screen presence in the shadow of those around him. Levine is clearly skilled at writing for everyone but his own character, with Charles’s exposition marred by its poor delivery. Thankfully, the performances of the rest of the cast more than make up for it, cleverly written to include almost every buzz word and phrase that makes up today’s young British language, adding to the film’s unmistakable origin.
To add to the enjoyment, the film is ruled by the fine work of the director. McManus uses the film’s locations to great effect, presenting great panoramic views with skillful attention to detail. The soundtrack is used to well throughout, providing both a sense of location on the French Riviera and an appropriate pace to the film’s action.
The narrative itself losses some cohesion towards the end of the film, but this can easily be forgiven for the fun that preceeds it. Each scene is constructed well and provides some purely comedic moments. Moments of excessive gore are peppered throughout the film but these are handled well and with purpose, adding something more to the black and white pallor of the film.
Cleverly put together and at times joyfully funny, Dead in France is an extremely enjoyable watch. Playing well on the assumed characteristics of young Brits abroad, the film brings together a greatly varied cast to provide a fun and surprising film.
Best bit: Simon’s impersonation of Charles as he tries to con him out of £2 million.