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flick pick | Kiss or Kill 1997
Directed by: Bill Bennett
Starring: Frances O'Connor, Matt Day
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: foreign [Australian], thriller
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:

Plot synopsis Nikki and Al are two young lovers with a nice little scam going: these small-time thieves target out-of-town businessmen, sending Nikki in to seduce and drug the victims. Once the poor sucker has passed out, Al helps Nikki clean out the loot – when the guy wakes up the next morning, he’s usually so fearful that his family might learn of his indiscretion that he never bothers to report the crime to the police. But when one of their cons goes terribly wrong, and the two find themselves stuck with a dead body and a rather incriminating videotape involving a local football hero, Zipper Doyle, with a pre-pubescent boy, they know they’ve got to clear out of town, and fast. But as they make their way cross-country, more people start turning up dead – leaving Nikki (who, thanks to a very disturbed childhood, is pretty distrustful of men to begin with) and Al (who can’t help but notice that Nikki’s acting a bit strangely)  with no choice but to suspect the other is a murderer.

Review Kiss or Kill is part thriller, part road trip adventure, part mystery, part romance -- with a fair amount of comedy thrown in for good measure, plus trendy (albeit in this instance completely appropriate) jump cuts galore. All of which makes it sound like every supposedly edgy film that came out in the post-Tarantino era of the mid-late 90s … but this is one romance/crime/road movie that’s got a distinct personality all its own. To begin with, it’s a low-budget flick that nevertheless actually looks good – the strange landscape of the Australian desert looks creepily, barrenly beautiful. The film also features the talents of Frances O’Connor, who, as the nervous and slightly un-hinged Nikki, simply shines. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about her that gives her so much presence on-screen (she’s pretty, though not unusually so), but whatever it is, you can’t take your eyes off of her. Best of all, though, are the host of quirky characters that the lovers on the run encounter during the course of their cross-country escape – from an eccentric motel owner, to a couple who’ve set up house on an abandoned nuclear testing site, to the two hilariously dry-humored cops who are trailing after Nikki and Al. Throw in a surprising twist ending, and you’ve got yourself one very stylish, utterly unpredictable ride of a road movie.


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