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August 2005

By Wilson Morales

Memory of a Killer

Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Erik Van Looy
Producers: Erwin Provoost & Hilde De Laere
Screenwriters: Carl Joos & Erik Van Looy, based on the novel by Jef Geeraerts
Cinematographer: Danny Elsen
Composer: Stephen Warbeck
Cast: Koen De Bouw, Werner De Smedt, Jan Decleir, Hilde De Baerdemaeker, Jo De Meyere


If there's a film that shouldn't be missed this summer, it's "The Memory of a Killer". This is a foreign film that has played in many festivals and was Belgium's Oscar Nominee for 2005. In the midst of having superheroes and laugh out loud comedy films rule the box office this summer, we haven't had a good suspense thriller that really captures your attention. Since this is a foreign film, none of the actors may be familiar to you, which is a good thing, because it's the story that stands out. Sleepers are given to films that come out of the blue and for some reason either make more money than expected or the word on the film has been extremely positive. "The Memory of a Killer" aka The Alzheimer Case) could fall in that bracket because its director, Erik Van Looy, has put together such a well crafted film with an amazing performance by its lead actor, Jan Decleir.

Angelo Ledda (Declair) is an international hitman who does his job without a second thought. He's been so good at his job over the years, that the thought of human emotion is nonexistent in his life. His recent assignment is to kill two people in Belgium. In old age, Angelo is suffering from advanced stages of Alzheimers's and this job will more than likely be his last. The first of his targets was successfully accomplished, assassinating a high profiled official Bob Van Camp. His second target brings the emotion out of him as he discovers it's a 12 year-old he is to kill. With Detectives Vincke (De Bouw) and Verstuyft (De Smedt) on his tail, Ledda is on a quest to find his employer and the motive beind the hit. The only obstables facing him is the fact that his illness is affecting his memory and judgment and other hitmen are sent in to kill him for failing to do the job.

Just when you think that film is becoming the usual cat and mouse game, the film offers many twists and turns and becomes very intense and compelling. Declair is quite effective as the assassin and his physical appearance accounts for the touching scenes the film illustrates as we see this once menacing man become frail at times and helpless as he struggles with his mind to maintain focus. This isn't your normal crime drama where assumptions are easily made. There are several battles here that we don't see on the screen, but can imagine. Angelo and his mind, Angelo and the detective, Angelo and the hitmen, and finally Angelo and his employer, and some of the issues we face in this film and credit Van Looy for making the characters whole and giving them enough depth to understand their plight. What you have here a thriller that's laced with riveting performances and a spellbinding story.