Rezo Khobua's short student film “The Killer” (2018) tells the story of a hitman who is definitely hired, but probably is not a killer. The plot deals with the psychology of the main character, but is so superficial that at the end of the 10-minute film, there are more questions than answers, and these questions are not ones that the audience is willing or able to find answers to.
The main flaw of the film is dramaturgy. When you are struggling to convey such a topic as the psychology of a criminal or a person who is just on the path to crime, you cannot limit yourself to description and avoid going into the depths. Due to the short time frame, the director might not have used dramaturgical moves that would have made the plot psychological and the story more interesting, although it could have been better to show the moral dilemma the character is facing through a camera.
The plot lacks clarity, which does not allow the audience to get fully involved in the character's story and follow him as the director himself might have wanted. It seems that he is trying to clarify the identity and relationship of the characters in the expository part of the film, in which the action takes place in the shooting gallery, although both remain unclear for the audience. In addition to the ambiguity, there is also the problem of exposition, which would not be so noticeable if it did not play such a large role in the tying of the knot and the development of the action. Why would the owner of the shooting gallery risk hiring the main character to be a killer? Just because he shoots well? It turns out that everyone who shoots well is a potential killer. It would have been much better and more logical if this particular moment had not been shown at all and the film would have started directly with the character's dilemma, because it is his inner dilemma that is the central part of the story. The relationship between the main character and his employer is also unclear, not to mention the girl who plays a big role in solving the character's dilemma. When there are so many questions surrounding the characters and their goals in an already small film, it becomes a bit difficult and tedious to follow the plot. Perhaps the director left questions like this on purpose to keep the audience thinking, but they don't add anything to the story or the audience.
Posters from the famous movie "Leon" (1994) have been brought to help you get to know the character in one way or another. The director thereby shows the contrast between the main character's real „self“ and desired „self.“ Ordering milk at the bar also reminds the audience of Leon, and if the number of posters did not convince him, this time he will at least convince him how obsessed "Killer" is with this film and character. After the clumsiness and nervousness of the character, it can already be seen that his black glasses and dark clothes are just a facade, and actually killing a person is not in his character. Conveying the inner transformation or the attempt to transform the main character by changing clothes and image was an interesting detail, especially when it plays a big role in the final shot of the film and, therefore, in conveying the main message. Although the audience who has not seen "Leon" will not perceive the existence of this contrast (between the character's nature and desire) very well, and the film will be even more obscure for them, it is still a reasonable decision to use a famous character in this way to develop the narrative.
The film leaves many questions with its ambiguity. Among them is the question - is this the first "case" of the character? The answer to this may be found by the viewer when watching it again, but when the film does not belong to "intellectual cinema," watching it again, just because it left such questions, does not speak well of it. It's likely that as the main character is so upset because he finally makes the choice he did, this is really his first "case" but at first glance the film doesn't really give that impression, and after the last shot, all that's left is confusion.
The actors clearly seem unprofessional. Their manner of speaking and facial expressions lack naturalness and impulsivity. The artificiality of their game is further aggravated by weak dialogues. Some of the dialogues and their delivery to the audience are so unnatural that the latter does not forget the existence of the camera, but rather - as if they are holding it. This destroys the little interest that the audience had until now. Nevertheless, the performer of the main character copes best with the given role. It is hard to say that his acting style is completely natural, although there are moments when, one way or another, he manages to make the audience believe that what is happening is really happening and is not premeditated.
The movement of the camera or editing does not contribute to the development of the narrative at all. The camera is not used as a tool to manipulate the viewer's emotions and thoughts. However, especially in short films, it is necessary to use each component of the narrative as much as possible to convey the message, so that it reaches the audience correctly and is not covered in obscurity. In the case of this film, the camera does not tell us, but only describes the action unfolding in the story. In addition, neither the visual nor the sound editing manage to make much of an impression on the audience, as both are used very superficially. There seems to be an attempt to create a tense atmosphere with the sound at the beginning, but unfortunately this attempt remains an attempt.
In the final scene, the camera works quite well, because through several frames it is which says what to say - the main character did not commit the murder, and moreover, he removed the facade of the murderer. The finale would lose all effect if the idea was conveyed with more shots, therefore, in this case, brevity is the right decision on the part of the director. The problem is that the exposition and the development of the action is so flawed and shallow that the ending loses its effect. Because the camera was able to convey the message correctly, it could create a psychological portrait that would allow the viewer to really care about the character's story and empathize with him, although this may not have been the director's intention.
. The film is about a topic that interests most of the audience, but it fails to use its potential. The potential lies in the fact that, first of all, the story is built on an interesting topic and at moments it seems to choose the right direction of development, but in no case is it able to bring the beginning to the end. Additionally, there are several clues that help convey the message, such as the use of clothing to visually represent an inner metamorphosis. Despite the many questions that the film leaves, perhaps the director wanted to convey the character of the criminal or, depending on the title of the film, "the criminal" and the conflict between his character and desire, although the message is partially lost and reaches the audience with excessive ambiguity.
BA student of film studies