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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, November 27, 2014 - Edition No 925 
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KISS OR KILL

SYNOPSIS:
Nikki (O’Connor) and Al (Day) are lovers and partners in crime - small time. When a routine con job goes badly astray, they hit the road across the barren Nullarbor, carrying a stolen video that implicates a famous sportsman in child sex. With the city cops - and the threatened sportsman - on their trail, they overnight at a motel. By morning, the motel owner is dead. Murdered. Next day, they get a lift from a stranger, who takes them home and lets them stay. By morning, he and his wife are also dead. Murdered. As they begin to suspect each other of the multiple killings, the cops are closing in, helped by an Aboriginal tracker. They also learn things about each other’s past. Kiss or Kill poses a potent question: how well can you really know anyone?

"This is a striking film, with a great sense of pace that helps propel the action, both internally for the characters and the plotline. From its opening sequences of a smalltime scam going wrong, to the climactic outback chase, Kiss or Kill is edgy and unpredictable, giving us terrific cinematic pleasure. This edginess is pursued by Bennett with his decision to use no music whatever. He wants us to feel a bit tense and uncomfortable, even at the very end. Some effective shorthand jump cut editing (missing a few connecting frames) adds to the look and feel of a jagged film, but this should not be misunderstood to mean rough. Malcolm McCullogh’s hand held photography is brilliantly balanced, and never strays into irritating mannerisms. The story itself is clear without being simplistic, driven quite evidently by the characters - all of whom are rounded, full bodied and complex, not the least Nikki and Al. There is also a marvellous sense of humour that runs through the film, right to the surprising and wonderful (and meaningful) coda, which is a real delight. The supporting cast is equally brilliant, each with full blown characters, nuances, contradictions and touches of humour. While the film is certainly commercially viable, it does not look out of place in any festival, either."
Andrew L. Urban

"There are no ordinary people in Bill Bennett’s Kiss or Kill. The diversity of the characters is one of the most appealing aspects of this new Australian road movie. Bennett has brought to the screen an intriguing tale, told by a solid cast who deliver top notch performances. The two leads work well together, having good chemistry over an underlying tension and ambiguity to their relationship. Matt Day’s good looks belie a certain undercurrent which he uses to full effect in his character of Al. Frances O’Connor’s Nikki develops convincingly into an enigma, with her evolving vulnerability coming as a surprise. Just as spices punctuate a good meal with colour and flavour, so do the characters we meet along the way. Max Cullen is fun as the casual, wine-loving motel owner; Barry Otto is wonderfully weird as the sleeping body in the hot vehicle; Barry Langrishe convincingly paranoid as sports hero Zipper Doyle. I particularly like Chris Haywood’s performance as Detective Inspector Hummer; his scene with colleague Gilbert (Crean), an offbeat conversation at a roadside diner, makes a delightful little detour. Interesting to note the total absence of musical soundtrack: this reviewer hungers for the emotional drive that music brings, even if only for closing credits. Diverse locations show not only the stunning blues and aquas of the sea, but the vast, flat expanses, which accentuate the length of the road Al and Nikki are travelling."
Louise Keller



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ON LOCATION
CAST INTERVIEWS
BILL BENNETT INTERVIEW
FRANCES O'CONNOR INTERVIEW


KISS OR KILL (MA)
(Australia)

 

CAST: Frances O’Connor, Matt Day, Chris Haywood, Andrew S. Gilbert, Barry Langrishe, Max Cullen, Barry Otto

DIRECTOR: Bill Bennett

PRODUCER: Bill Bennett and Jennifer Bennett

SCRIPT: Bill Bennett

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Malcolm McCulloch

EDITOR: Henry Dangar

SOUND DESIGN: Wayne Pashley and Toivo Lember

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Andrew Plumer

RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes

 

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: New Vision

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 11, 1997

US RELEASE: November 14, 1997 

AWARDS: Best Actress, (Frances O’Connor), Best Sound (Wayne Pashley, Tovio Lember), Montreal Film Festival, 1997







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