The Memory of a Killer - The Alzheimer Case
|Koen de Bouw||Erik Vincke|
|Werner De Smedt||Freddy Verstuyft|
|Jan Decleir||Angelo Ledda|
|Hilde De Baerdemaeker||Linda De Leenheer|
|Geert van Rampelberg||Tom Coemans|
|Directed by||Erik Van Looy|
An aging professional killer sits in a terrace restaurant getting instructions from his boss on his next assignment. The waitress walks past. ?Miss, could I get some fries with my steak ?? he asks. ?Certainly sir. But you?ve already ordered them.? In life, there could be a dozen explanations for that exchange. In a movie, it can only mean one thing. Alzheimer?s.
Angelo Ledda (Jan Decleir), the central figure in Erik Van Looy?s tough noir drama, is suffering the early stages of the disease. He can still get around, still do his job, but little pieces of memory are starting to come unmoored, little mental circuits are starting to short, and he knows his time is limited. In a device so brazenly patterned on "Memento" (2000) that one can only hope it was there in the source material (Jef Geeraerts?s late-?70s cop novel "The Alzheimer Case"), Ledda writes notes to himself on his arm with a felt pen so he can remember important things like whom to kill next. In the world of cinematic memory loss, post-its have not yet replaced epidermis as the memo medium of choice. And so Ledda is dispatched on that old favorite, the one last job, which takes him to Antwerp and a sleazy world of child prostitution and government corruption. As if just going to Antwerp weren?t bad enough. ?I hate Belgium,? Ledda complains. ?Who doesn?t?? his boss replies.
Ledda comes by his aversion to Antwerp legitimately ; it?s where he grew up. His assignment there is for two hits, to cover the traces of a child porn operation, and he takes care of the first ? a prosecutor ? with no qualms. But the second target reveals a soft spot in his hired assassin?s crust, and he refuses to do it. He decides instead to use his dwindling time to go after the real bad guys. The film is the first theatrical adaptation of Geeraerts?s Flemish detective series, which features the cerebral Eric Vincke (Koen De Bouw) and his muscular partner Freddy Verstuyft (Werner De Smedt). Ledda plays a cat-and-mouse game with Vincke, leading the detective tantalizingly along with cryptic clues as he works his way through a short list of bad guys who require killing before his time runs out.
Ledda goes to visit his brother Paolo in a nursing home, where Paolo is lost deep in an Alzheimer?s fog. A nurse starts to describe to him how the symptoms started. ?I know how it starts,? he says curtly, cutting her off. And we know how it has to end. But first there?s the story to tell, and it?s one that does not spare the Belgian police and political establishment. There is corruption everywhere, with inter-agency rivalry and egos run wild. Vincke and Verstuyft work hard at their job, but it?s frustrating cutting through all the layers of impediment on both sides of the law.
There is a lot that is familiar in this story, starting with the telephonic game of tease Ledda plays with Vincke, the urgent tracing of calls and pell-mell arriving at dangling public phones moments after the cagey caller has vanished. There is even a scene where Ledda uses the time-honored device of a window-washer?s elevator platform to pop a victim through a high-story office window. There?s a sex scene that seems to be there just for diversion, and to spice up the MPAA rating. There are plenty of other moments that don?t stand up to a lot of scrutiny. And the intriguing premise of a hit man with Alzheimer?s is ultimately unsatisfying in the execution. But what this movie lacks in originality, it makes up in grit. Van Looy has both the necessary respect for the policier genre, and the talent to render it. And he has the indispensable services of Jan Declair (of Oscar-winners "Antonia?s Line" and "Karakter") to hold our attention. The veteran Belgian star commands the screen, moving through Ledda?s gathering mental twilight with a brawny assurance that is punctuated by hopeless moments of befuddlement. "The Memory of a Killer" has been a huge hit in its home country, earning five Belgian Oscars and impressive box office records. The rights for an American remake are already in Hollywood?s hands. Van Looy has expressed an interest in doing another Vincke and Verstuyft movie. Unfortunately, Ledda won?t be around.
Early in the movie Verstuyft tells his partner about a trick naughty boys play on the fancy cars of the rich ? if you pee in the keyhole, it gums it up and leaves a disgusting smell in the car. That's the ultimate metaphor for what the good guys are able to accomplish in this world of epidemic corruption at high places. You can?t really stop the bastards, but you can mess up their keyholes.
© Text 2005 Jonathan Richards - Filmfreak.be