The death of life ("Zoe" is the Latin
(actually Greek) word meaning "life."
Zed: I can't pee on you?
A 1994 crime/heist/drug/postmodern
film, written and directed by Roger Avary
(best known for co-writing Pulp Fiction
). Stars Eric Stoltz as Zed, Julie Delpy as the titular Zoe, and Jean-Hugues Anglade as Eric, the mastermind behind the heist. Roger Ebert
called it "Generation X's first bank caper movie."
Eric Stoltz plays Zed, an American safe-cracker in Paris to see his childhood friend Eric. After an interesting afternoon with Zoe, a call-girl (certainly not a prostitute), Eric shows up and takes Zed out to "live life." This is done by shooting up with Zed, and then telling him that he (Eric) is HIV positive. The following day is Bastille Day, and every bank except one is closed. Guess what happens. They rob the place, Eric goes crazy (well, crazier), the call-girl works there, and every piece of shit manages to hit the fan.
It's gone down in history as a lesser Quentin Tarantino
film, but his only involvement was as executive producer. Similarities between Killing Zoe
and other Tarantino films do exist, but that is because Roger Avary had a hand in writing those scripts. Some called Tarantino out on reusing a call-girl character, as he had already done True Romance
, but the first draft of True Romance
was written by Roger Avary. The true difference between Killing Zoe
and the Tarantino's films is the nihilism. Avary writes villains who are selfish monsters and heroes that are nothing but apathetic. Does it come as a shock to anyone that the man's next film would be an adaptation of a Bret Easton Ellis book
This film provides examples of:
- Anti-Hero: Zed is a career criminal who isn't exactly a nice guy.
- Ax-Crazy: Eric, after he's done being Affably Evil.
- Black and Gray Morality: When the hero is a heroin-using safe cracker and his old lady is a call girl, you know you're not in a very nice place.
- Blatant Lies: "I am not a prostitute!"
- Breast Attack: A gender reversed version. Zoe does it to Zed when he calls her a prostitute.
- California Doubling: Despite taking place entirely in Paris, the whole production was shot in L.A. (with the exception of the opening and closing credits). Because 99% of the movie takes place indoors and almost the entire cast is French, it's not noticeable at all.
- The Caper: Probably would have gone better had they spent more than five minutes planning. And didn't do heroin the night before. And weren't lead by a psycho... it wasn't the smartest Caper.
- Deadpan Snarker: Zed.
- Eiffel Tower Effect: Averted. Roger Avary specifically wanted to avoid this and make a movie about the real Paris, not the one featured in every Hollywood movie.
- Everyone Looks Sexier If French: When played by Julie Delpy, you're damn right.
- Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Obviously any french spoken by Julie Delpy's Zoe, and strangely, many lines from Eric sounds incredibly hot when you get past the whole "murder" thing.
- Faux Affably Evil: Eric, who begins the film as Zed's old childhood friend. He always has a smile on, and says that the rest of the gang has already agreed to give Zed a big cut of the take. Later on, he's still smiling, while covered in blood, leaving his gang to die, and decaring that he doesn't give a shit about Zed. "We haven't seen each other years!"
- Gay Paree: Totally averted, since all but the opening and closing shots were filmed in Los Angeles. Avary actually tried to film a French McDonald's, but couldn't get permission.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Zoe falls for Zed because he makes her orgasm (by her own logic, only a client who's a good person could make her come).
- Insistent Terminology: Zoe is a "call girl," not a "prostitute."
- Karmic Death: Eric gets machine gunned to death by a least a half dozen cops. He spends almost 30 seconds having bullets rip through him.
- Malevolent Masked Men: All the bank robbers where Venetian-style masks that reflect their personalities. For example, Zed's mask is a pig.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: With a gun! Unlike most MPDG's in fiction, Zoe doesn't inspire a whole lot of change in Zed. He doesn't lift an eyebrow when Eric locks her out of the hotel room without any clothes on. He does, however, risk his life to save her.
- Meaningful Echo: "I'll show you the real Paris."
- The Public Domain Channel: Silent classic Nosferatu plays on TV while Zed and Zoe have sex.
- Sanity Slippage: Eric (noticing a pattern?)
- Vaporware: Avary wrote a sequel that picked up right after the film ends. It has yet to be made.
- Verbing Nouny