Kill Your Friends
Cert: 18 / 103 mins / Dir. Owen Harris / Trailer
Hang on a minute, how is 1997 now an acceptable time-point to set a 'retro' film? 1997's only just happened! Christ, I'm one of those 'young people' you see around, with their trainers and and their headphones and their internet, and I remember where I was bloody drinking in 1997! Well, for most of it, at any rate…
So, John Niven's screenplay adaptation of his 2008 novel follows Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult), an ambitious yet lazy and cynical A&R agent for a London record label, and charts his progress in a cut-throat business as well as his own monumental meltdown. Okay, it's basically Filth with a smattering of RocknRolla, not that that's an awful thing by any means. Set at the tail-end of the Britpop era in 1997, it highlights the preposterous vapidity of the mainstream music business a little too well, even in its exaggerated state. The film doesn't necessarily represent 'the truth' about the industry, but there's certainly more of 'a' truth there than many would like to admit.
The most entertaining way to deal with an immediately and inherently unlikeable protagonist is of course to offer them no redemption at all, pushing them so far through the hoops of anti-heroism that an audience can't help but enjoy watching them implode. And none more-so than here. At its heart, Kill Your Friends is every bit as grubby and exploitative as the business it claims to be lampooning, indeed that's very much the point. John Niven's ire works across the entire entertainment industry, and always has. If the film doesn't leave a bad taste in your mouth, you're probably part of the game itself.
Kill Your Friends isn't lacking substance, but its style is far more overbearing. Occasionally feeling like more of an excuse for a compilation soundtrack album than for a movie, the plot reluctantly takes second-place to the parody-element; things certainly start strongly enough, but at a pace the screenplay can't maintain, sagging in the middle to the point where you know Director Owen Harris is going to have to pull something pretty special out of the bag if the finale is going to be back in-gear (which happens, to be fair). Additionally, a few of the scripted gags are telegraphed a little ("track three"), but I don't think anyone was in the auditorium for an intricate script. But even at its quietest, KYF is enjoyably detestable, and you've rarely seen a leading character fall so far while climbing so high. Hoult's leading character may be relentlessly charmless and nihilistic, but that doesn't mean the film follows suit.
Even if you only want to watch James Corden getting his face smashed fatally inward, Kill Your Friends is still worth the price of a ticket.
The DVD beckons…
Er, only if you already know it's going to be your thing.
Buy it, but wait until the price drops.
Hoult is quite fantastic here, even if he's restrained by the character he's playing.
For me? Yes.
No, but I'll ask for your detailed reasoning.
Kill Your Friends stars Deborah Rosen, who had a small role in Guardians Of The Galaxy, as did Peter 'the voice of Darth Maul' Serafinowicz.
[All roads lead to Darth Maul, today.]
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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