Directed by Dru Brown (helming his second feature length film) and written by Michael J. Kospiah The Suicide Theory is pure Australian “karmic” gold. After a 2014 festival run, the film was released in 2015 (in the USA). The film is set in Australia and starts in a convenience store.
A man complains to the proprietor about his pregnant wife as another customer enters and interrupts the two men. The first customer tells off the newcomer who responds sarcastically and leaves. Outside the shop, as the disgruntled customer walks away, the man with the pregnant wife, beats the sarcastic customer to death.
Steve Mouzakis is Steven Ray. A violent man who works as a professional hitman. Steven is the man in the shop who beats the other customer to death. Leon Cain is Percival, a gay artist who has repeatedly tried to take his own life and failed. He hires Steven Ray to kill him, but with the proviso that Steven wait till Percival does not want to die. Otherwise, he tells the hitman, it will not work.
The two men meet in a train and after the artist pays Steven a huge amount of money, the killer pumps three rounds into Percival’s chest at point blank range.
The Suicide Theory is Australian cinema at its finest. The cast, the storyline and the character arcs of each main player are just brilliantly done. Mouzakis is an odd cross between Steve Buscemi and Tim Curry. A perfect fit for the tortured and violent man whose first memory is of his own father throwing him through a glass coffee table.
Steven is an epileptic whose wife dies when a car careens through a crosswalk and hits the woman as the couple leave the opera. The hitman develops a phobia about crossing the street and each time he tries, Steven collapses in a fit.
Ray and Percival interact repeatedly as the hitman attempts to fulfill his contract on the painter. As they continue to meet and talk through the reasons that Percival wants to die the men begin to bond.
Dru Brown’s offering is a film of many colours. In parts black comedy, film noir, drama, buddy film, thriller and social commentary The Suicide Theory proves that a movie can be far fetched and still work splendidly.
There have been charges that the film is contrived, and certainly this is the case. As is the fact that Percival could have surely been killed by some other means than those employed by himself and Steven Ray (such as decapitation for example) but despite these obvious “shortfalls” the film works.
This can be seen as a cautionary type tale where one’s actions (that prompt epic and long reaching karmic repercussions) result in one’s own fate. Scenes in the film are striking and memorable.
Steven Ray, wearing his dead wife’s opera “outfit” of a little black number and wearing her lipstick, listens to opera on a scratchy old-fashioned vinyl album.
Later, wearing the same outfit, he puts a gun to his chin to kill himself when a bullet crashes through his window barely missing him. Looking out to the street, he sees a policeman in a gun battle with a thug, who is about to kill the cop. Steven kills the armed thug and the camera pans over to his standing in the road, a hero dressed in a black slinky dress and wearing “lippy.”
The movie was filmed digitally; with the Red Scarlet X for high definition, and despite this deviation from celluloid, looks brilliant. There is an issue of lighting in a couple of scenes but this does not detract from the film.
Mouzakis gives a brilliant performance as the odd-ball hitman who grieves for his dead wife. Leon Cain gives a wonderful slant to his tortured artist with a guilty secret that drives him to repeatedly attempt suicide. These two are an excellent odd couple who end up intriguing the viewer.
At 98 minutes the film moves well, never lagging and compels the audience to keep watching. Oddly entertaining and completely absorbing, this one has Hollywood remake written all over it. If tinseltown do re-imagine this film, Steve Buscemi as Steven Ray would be casting perfection.
A 5 out of 5 star film that show why Australian cinema is one of my top favorites in the world of film making. Streaming on US Netflix at the moment watch this and learn why cinematic offerings from the land down under can be much more than Mad Max and horror films.