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Despite an impressive cast doing their best to give it some zip (Tom Wilkinson, Marion Bailey, Christopher Eccleston), this is one of those baffling British indie comedies that has somehow got made in the face of its own silliness. It is based on the larksome subject of suicide (though the film’s publicity material declares it is supported by the Samaritans).
William (Aneurin Barnard) is a depressed and unsuccessful young writer who keeps trying to take his own life with hilarious lack of success. Then he is approached by Leslie (Wilkinson), a hitman and member of the assassins’ guild who offers to kill him with professional efficiency. William pays for this service, but, having then met beautiful publisher Ellie (Freya Mavor) who rather likes both his writing and him, he changes his mind. Leslie, however, gruffly insists on seeing the job through and a relentlessly zany series of events unfolds. Bailey plays Leslie’s wife, Penny, and Eccleston is Harvey, the glowering mafioso and assassin guild chief – each unhappy in their own way with Leslie’s erratic behaviour.
The idea of a depressed person getting someone to assist with the final, desperate act is similar to the plot of the world cinema classic Taste of Cherry by Abbas Kiarostami (and like that film is subject to the plot niggle of how exactly suicidal people ensure they get what they paid for). But Taste of Cherry took the idea with absolute seriousness. Dead in a Week is striving for a weirdly sentimental kind of black-comic farce, and it doesn’t work – although there is a brutal force in the joke about the kind of people who take up golf in retirement.
In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.
Source: The Guardian
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