Home Reviews Films Film Review – THE SHALLOW TALE OF A WRITER WHO DECIDED TO WRITE ABOUT A SERIAL KILLER: A Film That Shines in Absurdist Glory and Earns the Length of its Title [Tribeca 2024]

Film Review – THE SHALLOW TALE OF A WRITER WHO DECIDED TO WRITE ABOUT A SERIAL KILLER: A Film That Shines in Absurdist Glory and Earns the Length of its Title [Tribeca 2024]

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Film Review – THE SHALLOW TALE OF A WRITER WHO DECIDED TO WRITE ABOUT A SERIAL KILLER: A Film That Shines in Absurdist Glory and Earns the Length of its Title [Tribeca 2024]

Steve Buscemi Britt Lower John Magaro The Shallow Tale Of A Writer Who Decided To Write About A Serial Killer

The Shallow Tale of a Writer Who Decided to Write About a Serial Killer Review

The Shallow Tale of a Writer Who Decided to Write About a Serial Killer (2024) Film Review from the 23rd Annual Tribeca Film Festival, a movie directed by Tolga Karaçelik, written by Tolga Karaçelik, and starring Steve Buscemi, Britt Lower, John Magaro, Ward Horton, Sydney Cole Alexander, Olli Haaskivi, Jacob Ming-Trent, and Anthony Michael Lopez.

With a title like The Shallow Tale of a Writer Who Decided to Write About a Serial Killer, there may be certain expectations and preconceived notions you have when you sit down in the cinema seats; after all, this is a film festival. But this film from Turkish director Tolga Karaçelik was an absolute delight that felt fresh, funny, and totally singular to the filmmaker’s vision.

The movie is about struggling writer Keane (John Magaro), who is on the brink of divorce with his bread-winning wife Suzie (Britt Lower) when a fan in a diner tries to convince him to write about a retired serial killer for his next book. That fan, Kollmick (Steve Buscemi), is that very retired serial killer that he should write about. When the unlikely pair heads back to Keane’s brownstone to discuss the idea further, they are interrupted by Suzie. In order to skirt the true nature of their meeting, the two men convince Suzie that Kollmick is a marriage counselor whom Keane has summoned to help keep them together.

As zany a plot as that sounds, and with a title that reads like a Fall Out Boy song, it’s remarkable how patient the film is. There is confidence felt in every frame. It allows for the absurdist plot to feel natural when it unfolds in all these strange and unpredictable directions.

The characters are grounded. John Magaro is perfect as the washed-up writer, Keane. You know one of these guys: grungy bread, wrinkled button-up shirts, and an affinity for wine and whiskey. Always talking about how he is a writer without ever actually writing anything (for 4 years in the movie). He needs a good kick in the ass from a serial killer to get his head out of the clouds. And Britt Lower, as his wife Suzie, plays the perfect foil for Keane. A character as rigid as her bangs works as an interior designer in New York City and cuts a bucket load of onions before confessing she wants a divorce because she “likes the way it sounds.” Opposites attract, I guess.

Yet when Kollmick, acting as the couple’s marriage counselor, asks them the story of how they met, the tender details of two college kids falling in love over Keane anxiously discussing potatoes make complete sense. We see the characters as who they are now, but their discussions with Kollmick give us a window into how things used to be when love reigned supreme. The thoughtful backstory gives the characters depth and agency and allows us to understand their current relationship struggles.

Steve Buscemi is fantastic as the enigmatic killer, Kollmick. Again, his character is patient and rational, but it’s his dialogue that drives home the point of his serial killer past. Constantly referencing death during counseling sessions and bluntly describing his process to Kollmick so he can learn the ins and outs of his new book. The trio of lead characters play brilliantly off each other. The way the story is structured, almost every line of dialogue goes over one of the three characters’ heads. The audience is the only one who sees the story as a whole, and it gives us access to a plethora of inside jokes.

There is an authenticity on screen that you just don’t see much of anymore. The settings felt real, the characters were relatable (hopefully not all of them), and the atmosphere was unique. A decidedly New York film, it used the city to its advantage without shoving it down your throat.

It gets a little bit messy at the very, very end, but I wasn’t expecting a traditional Hollywood ending by the time we got there, and it did little to sway my pleasant viewing experience.

Tolga Karaçelik is a name I would keep an eye out for. Hopefully he doesn’t get swallowed up in the Hollywood machine for a Marvel movie or horror tentpole reboot. But after viewing this film, it’s clear that he has true vision and stories to tell, so maybe the studios won’t notice him.

Rating: 8/10

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