Dead in a Week (Or Your Money Back)
This black comedy begins when ageing assassin Leslie (Tom Wilkinson) interrupts struggling writer William (Aneurin Barnard) in the midst of his seventh failed suicide attempt. In order to meet his quotas and keep his boss (Christopher Eccleston) happy, Leslie has taken to killing people who want to die. Leslie and William agree a fee, which the latter will get back if he’s not dead within the week.
William’s motive for suicide is an inability to find meaning in life that leaves him, in his own words, “adrift”. The solution to this existential crisis? A girl. Of course. In this case the girl is editor Ellie (Freya Mavor), who simultaneously offers to help publish his book and also thinks he’s fit. Suddenly, William has a reason to live, with predictable results for all concerned.
It’s hard to decide whether this is (a) a flippant take on mental health and suicide, (b) a wry look at the unpredictability of human emotion, (c) a satire of the way cinema often equates happiness with being-in-a-monogamous-and-heteronormative-relationship or (d) absolutely part of the problem outlined in (c).
The answer is that the movie is a fair amount of (a) with a little bit of all the others thrown in. For sure, this isn’t a film that should be watched as a handbook on how to help or deal with mental health problems. It also comes with a significant trigger warning for anyone currently struggling, or who has struggled in the past, with mental health issues. But, ultimately, Dead in a Week just isn’t that deep.
Instead, it’s a relatively cosy British black comedy that pokes gentle fun at the lives of a struggling and slightly pretentious creative (Withnal and I?), at the way in which British gangsters have strangely gentle home lives (In Bruges?), and the warm, fuzzy, coming-of-age feeling that comes from running away with a girl who finally “gets you” (every romcom ever!) Dead in a Week is sporadically funny and does kick off with some verve, before losing its way and falling victim to cliché and mishmash. This movie could, and probably should, have been better and more ambitious to justify its central concept, but it’s a relatively enjoyable watch.
Dead in a Week (Or Your Money Back) is released in Odeon cinemas on 16th November 2018.
Watch the trailer for Dead in a Week here: