[[caption-width-right:300:The death of life ("Zoe" is the [[RuleOfSymbolism Latin]] (actually Greek) word meaning [[DontExplainTheJoke "life."]]]]

->'''Zed:''' I can't pee on you?\\
'''Zoe:''' No!

A 1994 crime/heist/drug/{{postmodern}} film, written and directed by Creator/RogerAvary (best known for co-writing ''Film/PulpFiction''). Stars Eric Stoltz as Zed, Julie Delpy as the titular Zoe, and Jean-Hugues Anglade as Eric, the mastermind behind the heist. Creator/RogerEbert 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 Creator/QuentinTarantino 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 ''Film/TrueRomance'', 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 Creator/BretEastonEllis [[Literature/TheRulesofAttraction book]]?

!!This film provides examples of:

* AntiHero: Zed is a career criminal who isn't exactly a nice guy.
* AuteurLicense: Roger Avary backed out of a deal with a Canadian production company because they wouldn't let him use his.
* AuthorAvatar: Zed, for writer/director Roger Avary.
* AxCrazy: Eric, after he's done being Affably Evil. The fact that he abuses heroin ''during the heist'' doesn't help any, nor does the fact he may or may not be completely batshit insane.
* BankRobbery: Eric, his American friend Zed, and Eric's gang carry out an extremely ill-conceived bank heist in Paris by cutting short on the planning stage and getting baked on heroin beforehand. It becomes a protracted hostage situation almost immediately.
* BlackAndGrayMorality: When the hero is a heroin-using safe cracker and his old lady is a [[InsistentTerminology call girl]], you know you're not in a very nice place. Predictably, the villain is a manic, remorseless psychopath who becomes a terrorist and machine guns people to death entirely for fun. That said Zoe is also a ALighterShadeOfGrey, being more good than morally ambiguous.
* BlatantLies: "I am not a prostitute!" Though here it's just that she calls herself a [[InsistentTerminology call girl]] instead.
* BreastAttack: A gender reversed version. Zoe does it to Zed when he calls her a prostitute.
* {{BFG}}: Eric uses an MP-5 with three magazines 'jungle-taped' together, giving it a massive and intimidating appearance.
* TheCameo: The first security guard to die, shot-gunned to the chest, is Ron Jeremy, world's most famous porn star. In his autobiography, Jeremy put his appearance at number 1 on his list of greatest movie deaths.
* TheCaper: 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.
* CultSoundtrack: The electronic score by musical duo tomandandy [sic] became an underground club hit in Europe, and also helped to set Roger Avary apart from former collaborator Quentin Tarantino. It's worth noting that the actual soundtrack album features the score in a drastically different form than was featured in the film. Avary explains:
--> "Tomandandy completely remixed their movie music for the album, tuning it to their specific level of sonic perfection. Releasing the tracks different from the film may seem odd at first, but in those days the optical track on the film was lo-fi by tomandandy standards, and had to compete with so many tracks, backgrounds, and audio elements of the movie, that the music needed to be composed 'less deep' to be able to exist within the available bandwidth. Also, I would edit their music myself during editorial. Some beds of audio were originally composed separate from image, and we would make them fit contextually with the image. Keep in mind, this is with a flatbed Kem and dirty dupes of 35mm film, an entirely different experience that is possible in todays mashup culture. Also consider that philosophically we wanted to create a separate experience, one that existed specifically for the CD. I think this is most strongly felt on Canaan, the end song, which was sung two ways, once by Andy Milburn, and once by Robin O'Brien, because I wanted feminine phonemes in the end."
%%* DeadpanSnarker: Zed.
* EiffelTowerEffect: [[AvertedTrope Averted]]. Roger Avary specifically wanted to avoid this and make a movie about the ''real'' Paris, not the one featured in every Hollywood movie.
* EverybodyHasStandards: Zed may be a thief who likes to do drugs and fuck prostitutes from time to time, but that doesn't make him a ''murderer.''
* EveryoneLooksSexierIfFrench: When played by Julie Delpy, you're damn right.
* EverythingSoundsSexierInFrench: 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.
* FauxAffablyEvil: 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 declaring that he doesn't give a shit about Zed. "We haven't seen each other in years!"
* FrenchJerk: Eric was obnoxious and unpleasant even before he turned monstrously psychopathic.
* GayParee: 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.
* HookerWithAHeartOfGold: 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). Also, she's the least morally ambiguous character in the film ''by far.''
* InsistentTerminology: Zoe is a "call girl," not a "prostitute" (her reaction is almost identical to Alabama's in Film/TrueRomance, an earlier Avary story).
* JourneyToTheCenterOfTheMind: Symbolically, as the WordOfGod says the bank represents Zed's mind. [[RewatchBonus Watch the movie again with an eye towards that.]]
* KarmicDeath: [[spoiler: Eric]] gets machine gunned to death by at least a half dozen cops. He spends almost 30 seconds having bullets rip through him.
* LifeEmbellished: Believe it or not. Roger Avary based the script on his state of mind during a European trip he once took. Many quotable lines were actually said to him by his Parisian junkie friends. When Quentin Tarantino first read the script, he said the only appropriate title was "Roger Takes A Trip."
* MalevolentArchitecture and/or AlienGeometries and/or EldritchLocation: Word of God has it that the bank is meant to represent Zed's mind/brain. [[JourneyToTheCenterOfTheMind The farther into it they go, the deeper the red gets.]] The vault is his moral center, where he's forced to MercyKill the disfigured guard, thus changing his overall attitude (when Zoe was in trouble before, Zed didn't lift a finger; after the vault scene, he immediately risks his life to save her). Both the director and the production designer have gone on record saying the bank is highly unrealistic and was modeled on The Overlook Hotel from Creator/StanleyKubrick's Film/TheShining; French banks don't have giant French flags hanging from the ceiling or bizarre Roman paintings hanging on blood-red walls. For some audience members, this may break the SuspensionOfDisbelief, for others it's the best aspect of the film.
* MalevolentMaskedMen: All the bank robbers where Venetian-style masks that reflect their personalities. For example, Zed's mask is a wolf (though it's often mistaken for a pig). The actors all designed their character's masks personally.
* ManicPixieDreamGirl: 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.
* MeaningfulEcho: "I'll show you the real Paris."
* MoralityPet: Zoe becomes this to Zed.
* OnlySaneMan: Zed isn't quick on the uptake that he is this. By the time he realizes, everything's already fucked.
* ThePublicDomainChannel: Silent classic ''Film/{{Nosferatu}}'' plays on TV while Zed and Zoe have sex.
* RapePillageAndBurn: Of a sort. The writer/director likened the characters to vikings, and gave them all copies of ''Literature/{{Beowulf}}'' to get them into character. Also alluded to with Oliver's strange rant about loving viking films. Over the course of the film, the gang pillages, grotesquely burns a guard, and though they don't rape, it is threatened. Eric can also be seen having anal sex with Francois after admitting to Zed that he (Eric) has AIDS.
* RealityEnsues: Zed and co. do virtually no planning at all for the heist, are being lead by a delusional junkie/cold blooded psychopath, barely prepare for the caper at all (including ''visiting the bank they are supposed to hit'') and instead get hopelessly drunk and high the night before, ''continue to take drugs'' whilst in the middle of robbery, talk and joke freely whilst ignoring the hostages, don't do their jobs correctly, murder several people unnecessarily, discard their masks completely maybe ten minutes in, alert the police with their gunfire (and maybe the silent alarm they didn't properly take care of) don't take a negotiating stance with the police so much as just brutally and pointlessly kill off hostages until the police are practically forced to storm the place, and then immediately go every man for himself when that happens. Now, who can tell me why the heist didn't succeed?
* RuleOfSymbolism: The French flag, like the American, is composed of the colors red, white, and blue. So Killing Zoe is similarly divided: the color palette is white from the start to Eric's introduction, blue during the gang's night out, and red during the robbery. Subtle bits, like lighting, change accordingly; Zed's plaid shirt is blue during the night and changes to red when he wakes up for the robbery.
** The director has also said that HIV-positive, Caucasian, French Eric having anal sex with Vietnamese Francois was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek comment on the French occupation of Vietnam. Since you only see them from behind, many viewers had trouble figuring out just who Eric was doing it with.
* SanitySlippage: Eric (noticing a pattern?).
* SexEqualsLove: Zoe, who works part-time as a prostitute, falls in love with her client Zed because he makes her climax, which she believes only someone who's a good person could do. Later circumstances make this attraction more believable when Zed saves Zoe's life from his homicidal friend.
* ShoutOut: Oliver spends some time talking about his favorite episodes of Series/ThePrisoner.
* TattooedCrook: Zed has the Music/BlackFlag logo tattooed on his left bicep; Eric has a stylized bee on his arm, with the stinger ending in his (infected?) track mark.
* TooDumbToLive: You really would think that after Eric firmly establishes himself as a ruthless, utterly unstable maniac with an itchy trigger finger who ''tells everyone'' he will immediately kill anyone at all who mouths off to him that the hostages would really quit mouthing off to him. But you'd be wrong.
* VerbingNouny: The film's title.