‘Killer in Red’ is a Bitter and Beautiful Shot of Noir

By  · Published on February 6th, 2017

Short of the Day

From director and ’The Young Pope’ creator Paolo Sorrentino.

It’s been awhile since we’ve showcased a short made as an advertisement, but with the fervor surrounding HBO’s latest original series, The Young Pope, I thought we’d try out another work from series creator (and Youth and The Great Beauty director) Paolo Sorrentino that doubles as a long-form advertisement for Campari, the bitter crimson aperitif that goes great with gin and a twist of lemon.

Called Killer in Red, the short is a shot of 80s noir starring Clive Owen as a man with one of those faces you see everywhere who wanders into a bar (naturally) looking for a woman (naturally) but instead finds a talkative bartender with a story from back in the day about another beautiful woman (Caroline Tillette, Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life), an unfaithful husband, and a murder.

As you would expect if you’ve seen any of his other work, Killer in Red is a sumptuous piece of filmmaking, rich and lavish with detail, and steeped in the mysteriously alluring tone of noir. Sorrentino truly has an artist’s eye and even here in the secular world of product placement there is a magnificent balance of graceful imagery with a silky fluidity of narrative. As for Owen, he’s exactly as you’d expect and how you like him: dry, droll, and a little hangdog with a dash of heroism.

All together the ingredients make for the perfect filmic cocktail: brief, potent, and effective.

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