By all accounts, a movie dealing with assisted suicide has no business being as funny as Kill Me Please. Somehow, director Olias Barco has crafted a side-splitting exploration of people wanting to end their own life. Black and white, Belgian, and yet it defies all expectations to be instantly accessible and shockingly hilarious.
At a large facility in the forest, Doctor Krueger (Aurélien Recoing) helps people at the end of their rope. His main goal is to stop them from drinking the poison he applies with dignity, but he isn’t always successful. As a new group of paying customers moves into the building, and the nearby townsfolk plan to carry torches against the place, the good doctor struggles to keep the people who want to die from being killed.
Irony and inconsistency abounds which makes the story richer and more of a challenge for the writers (as if making suicide funny were easy enough). It’s a mix of verbal parrying and thrusting that makes it feel like Abbott and Costello doing “Who Dies First?” with an angry mob beating down the doors.
Krueger is a calm figure and a voice of reason, but even though he sees death as a formidable opponent, he is constantly surrounded by it. Although he scoffs at the idea of one patient wanting to go out in a blaze of staged battle, he’s still willing to buy a prostitute for a man who wants to die with a beautiful woman on top of him. It’s these quirks and continual viewing of videos from people wanting to come to his institute to die that color a main character endlessly worth watching.
The key to the comedy comes from characters who treat it all so casually. Even when the bullets start flying, they treat seeing someone eat it the same way they might treat watching a friend slip on a banana peel.
Then there’s the ultimate scenario – that people desperate to die still want to die in the way they see fit. Add in some over the top characters, like a famous opera singer who lost who voice to cancer and a fur-coated rapper who screams for luxury, and you’ve got a solid recipe for the darkest brew possible. Of course, someone in the middle of all that laughter is a poetic note about our own mortality and its true worth. Managing to make light of death is one challenge it overcomes with stirring ease, but somehow imbuing the jokes with a sense of profundity is the real triumph of this wonderful, black comic film.
The Upside: A challenge tackled well, colorful characters done in black and white, and an absurdity that works wonders.
The Downside: There are a few strange character moments (one that involves a coffin), but it’s truly a complete joy to watch.
On the Side: This is the second feature from Barco, who previously directed a (not great) movie about a snowboarder becoming a pro.