Kill Your Friends
“You can either be on the inside or the outside. You don’t want to be on the outside.” This is the first lesson of life ritualised by Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult), a young A&R (artists and repertoire) man, looking to bolster his way to the top of the music industry during the Britpop boom in the late 90s. The film stands for another one of these debauched metaphors of success: it essentially advises to do whatever it takes, to be greedy and to be a psychopath.
While subversive, felonious and misogynistic material is familiar and nothing new in British cinema, Kill Your Friends at least provides a place for local talent to be fully endowed. The supporting cast is full of actors wishing for their mainstay: Georgia King is cunning as Rebecca, a flirter, receptionist, prey. Edward Hogg is pleasingly cryptic as a slack detective with whacked eyes, and Craig Roberts is perfect bait as the fittingly paranoid sidekick to the entire gig. Although James Corden is reduced to snorting lines of cocaine and sobbing – an embarrassing turn – it is of course Nicholas Hoult who makes primetime and exposes an exciting show.
Hoult is the narrative. The pitfalls of his psychological state are chronicled in wild manifestations; drugs, sex and booze act as the typical reserve. Yet, Hoult’s acting is able to transcend the barriers of this underground tarnishing, instead becoming comparable to something like Christian Bale in American Psycho or even Michael Fassbender in Shame. There are strenuous replications of actions and ideals in the screenplay by John Niven (based on his own book), but admirably he is able to use the narration of Hoult’s character with redeeming qualities. The philosophies uttered are distinguishable from the image and therefore give the audience scope for more attention and intrigue. This is evidence that Hoult and director Owen Harris carved a great deal of insight into the character, and clearly worked hard prepping their respective crafts.
The style and tone meets recent comedy crime capers like Filth and Hyena, but these films seemingly struggle to find an audience beyond British go-getters or couples looking for a spot of trouble. The film is daring, it does confront its single-minded disputes, but it just doesn’t seem to care about much. It can feel empty and left outside, even though the talent keep busy on the inside. If material is bold, it must be answerable, not questionable.
Kill Your Friends is released nationwide on 6th November 2015.
Watch the trailer for Kill Your Friends here:
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