Blu-Ray Review – Killing Zoe (1994)

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Roger Avary is one of the most unlikely Oscar winners in history, he won for co-writing Pulp Fiction which was clearly for the most part the work of his friend (now former) Quentin Tarantino. During the writing of that film when he handed a couple loose stories over to QT he directed a fairly unremarkable Heist film set in Paris where he was living at the time. Avary had only officially directed one more feature film since Killing Zoe; the Bret Easton Ellis adaptation The Rules of Attraction, his small filmography of films he directed is partly due to spending time behind bars for manslaughter. He directed a TV film and wrote some screenplays for hire and also made the infamous unreleased Glitterati which is a companion film to The Rules of Attraction.

Killing Zoe is the kind of film Tarantino could’ve made as his 2nd film instead of Pulp Fiction and if he did he would be a long forgotten one time wonder. It suffers from the male fantasy of a hooker with a heart of gold which the Tarantino penned True Romance but that film is full of such memorable lines, being perfectly paced and a cast to die for. Killing Zoe has Eric Stoltz as the lead who may have shot Pulp Fiction before I’m not a 100% sure and a pre-Before Trilogy Julie Delpy as the title Zoe (spoiler she doesn’t die).

Despite being set in Paris it was almost entirety shot in Los Angeles except the opening and end credit shots of Paris were indeed shot in Paris. L.A doubles surprisingly well for Paris for the majority of the film, some scenes were obviously shot in sets in L.A like the Heroin fuelled night out before the big heist. Supposedly Avary wanted to depict the “nihilism” of generation with this film but it lacks any substance to succeed in doing that, if you want a real film about Nihilism with Gen-Xers just watch Fight Club for the 100th time.

Avary never lived up to the promise of being Tarantino’s mate turned filmmaker. He never had the wit and humour to rival his old pal and most importantly simply didn’t have the style to pull it off and Killing Zoe has that flat ’90s independent film look. The film’s only real stylistic change is during the Heroin fuelled night scene but that reeks of “let’s make this slightly trippy because they are fucked up”. It lacks any substance and has aged horribly in the 20+ years since it’s release and I would struggle to say anyone genuinely likes this film then and even more so now. Stoltz and Delpy do try their best however with the underdeveloped material.

Ian Schultz

Crime, Thriller |18 | Fabulous Films | 3rd August 2015 (UK)| Dir.Roger Avary | Eric Stoltz, Julie Delpy, Martin Raymond, Gary Kemp, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Bruce Ramsay |Buy:KIlling Zoe [DVD]