This superb film has been completely misunderstood!

From what I understand, most people's criticism is with the heavy handedness of the delivery of the political allegory underlying the discourse of the film.

Firstly, I find it ironic that people mention the movie's lack of subtlty, because after reading several depraved rants from keyboard warriors and arm-chair "critics" it still seems that no one actually completely understood the film! Even with the aforementioned allegorical hand holding done by Andrew Dominik in his (superb) direction and screenplay, viewers still can't/won't engage with the film on its own terms.

The allegory needed to be made and it needed to be clear from minute ONE. Why? Because that is where the REAL STORY IS and Dominik wants you to know that. He also wants you to know that the economic collapse of 2008 was far too affecting on the lives of Americans to be thrown subtly into the background. This event was a chain reaction that affected EVERYONE from ALL CLASSES. What the audience is seeing is how those at the bottom of the social class deal with this INSTEAD of the upper/middle class viewpoint. The characters are among the lowest form of human life, but it serves to remind us that these types of people exist and that they're fighting it out and struggling to get by (and just get "fuckin' paid") in a world that has completely abandoned them. These are not the people waiting for "CHANGE."

Driver (Richard Jenkins) remains nameless which serves as a clue to his allegorical representation in the film. Most likely he represents the Government: They know there's a problem and when a clear solution comes to them (in the form of Brad Pitt's character Jackie Cogan, who represents the voice of reason), they remain indecisive because they don't want to upset anyone on 'the board' (Corporations, etc. who fund party campaigns and bribe politicians to influence the political process). Driver neglects the harsh truth of the sitution, while Cogan brings it to the forefront, "Put him out of his misery." I guess in a way, James Gandolfini represents a lamenting wall street broker who was really good at his job for a time and has now hit rock bottom. His work has finally caught up to him (the stories he tells Pitt are an example of this and these can be met with either sympathy or anger) while still indulging in the same narcissistic pleasures he had while 'on top' without hesitation.

It's cynical. It's angry. It's berating. It's unabashedly anti-american. It's hard hitting. I can understand the hate for the film coming from patriotic Americans, viewers/critics with strong political values and audiences who were expecting a thrilling gangster film with explosions, shoot outs and Brad Pitt kicking ass. So far I've yet to see many people here on RT putting forward a sensible and reasonable argument that condemns the film for not achieving its aims. To me (and to all viewers who complain that Andrew Dominik bashes the viewers over the head with political allegories) it achieves exactly what it sets out to do as outlined above.

Lastly, I'm rather dismayed by those that encouraged RT users to request that cinemas ditch the screening of the film because it didn't align with their preconceived expectations of the film. I understand this isn't the 70s anymore and a lot of people align their cinema experience toward the entertainment spectrum, rather than an artistic medium challenging the social norms of the time. Still, I think people need to be a little more respectful of other people's viewing habits, instead of assuming everybody's view aligns with their own.
Matt Bate
12-5-2012 09:09 AM

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Max M.

The Dude

I liked it. Solid 8/10. I don't know why people hated it so much. And your summary Mr. Bate is very good. I also respect any other opinion, dissenting or otherwise, even if you don't necessarily respect mine. You can have an opinion as long as it doesn't degrade other people. Don't be an Armond White.

Jun 7 - 03:50 AM

Grand M.

Grand Mesa

I saw this load of crap last night. No sense getting "wordy" Matt with the armchair BS.
The movie stunk! The director forgot how to connect the dots and the dialog was anal at best.
Terrible editing. Good movie for a film class on what NOT TO DO.

May 30 - 02:28 AM

Transampathy

D R

It posed as an interesting alternate universe for what's typical of the American Crime genre.

May 27 - 10:04 AM

Corey Hammond

Corey Hammond

I mean, good summary, but this is what most armchair critics are upset about. He hit us over the head with this OBVIOUS allegory so hard to almost undermine the audiences intelligence or understanding. And now you have done the same thing. This thread will prove valuable only to save people from watching the actual movie, just read this synopsis and call it good.

and James Gandolfini can only represent something if his character is actually developed. He was just, kind of, there. As if just so Dominik could use his name in the credits

May 22 - 05:46 PM

Ryan Braswell

Ryan Braswell

The allegory made to the economics of America was weak, yet it was what the director was focused on most. There was no character developement, and the dull backdrop of the set wasn't emotional or gritty, it was just boring. I think that many people understood what the film was trying to get at,(it would be hard not to) but were hoping for something a lot better as I was.

May 20 - 11:38 AM

Grand M.

Grand Mesa

Ryan, you live in a fantasy world. This film stunk!

May 30 - 02:30 AM

Rodrigo Garcia

Rodrigo Garcia

The dialage was sooo baaaaaaaaaaaadd

May 14 - 08:59 PM

Transampathy

D R

Dialage?

May 27 - 09:59 AM

Austin Coppernoll

Austin Coppernoll

Well clearly Mr. Dominik was more concerned in making money than he was in driving the true purpose of his film. Most of the film's budget was likely squandered on the highly misleading marketing advertisements just so people would come and hear his narcissistic views of capitalism. I may have had an easier time honestly reviewing the content of this film if my anticipation towards its viewing had not been dishonest in of itself.

Mar 29 - 10:51 PM

Corey Hammond

Corey Hammond

Thats another huge issue. Good point

May 22 - 05:47 PM

Benedict Keeler

Benedict Keeler

Wow, considering the disinterest a lot of Americans have with politics (lacklustre voting figures for a nation that was built on political freedoms), they often have very strong opinions about a film that addresses their political discomfort. This film was indeed the most incredible film of 2012 that I saw, and a few months later I had the privilege of seeing Zero Dark Thirty. Both are films that reveal the nature of politics and certainly do not take a particular stance on any political spectrums. They are cynical too, and highly intellectual - not fully, mind, as these are still pieces of entertainment as well as artistic expression. They inspire debate, and have topically relevant themes about Western society. Killing Them Softly was Dominik's third feature, and was genuinely a masterpiece - I would not change anything about it. The political allegory was needed, I completely agree, and if it was toned down it would be lost in the crime drama backdrop and would be far less engaging. Perfectly balanced, potent filmmaking. Richer with repeat viewings once you're on board. Agree with another reviewer that this is just as much a masterpiece as the hattrick of modern Westerns from 2008 - which included the Coen Brothers' No Country For Old Men, PT Anderson's There Will Be Blood, and Andrew Dominik's own The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford - all of which cover the ugliness of men in a broader sense, and in a narrower sense Western democracy, capitalism, human ethics, pride, legacy and greed. I am frustrated by those who are simply too unengaged and self-righteous to look at what the film is really about.

Mar 29 - 08:09 PM

Jao Romero

Jao Romero

it was boring, was an intellectual masturbation, and was a great waste of cast and money. a film can both be intellectually stimulating without being boring. the only asswipes who think a film has to be boring in order to be intellectually stimulating are pseudo-intellectuals who think they're too smart than everybody else.

Mar 19 - 09:00 AM

Bazooka Jew

Bazooka Jew

A movie obviously isn't intellectually stimulating if it's boring.

Mar 29 - 11:31 PM

Peter Nenchew

Peter Nenchew

Extremely boring... Excruciating pace... Hideous cinematography...

Mar 10 - 03:15 PM

Amr L.

Amr Latif

this movie is garbage anybody who thinks otherwise doesnt know what a good movie is

Jan 26 - 11:49 PM

Geraldine Grant

Geraldine Grant

And pray Mr Latif, could you share your wisdom with us lesser mortals who thought KTS was superb. I obviously know nothing, so what films would you recommend I watch? I would love to know what you consider a good film

Jan 29 - 12:57 AM

Peter Nenchew

Peter Nenchew

The godfather I & II

Mar 10 - 03:19 PM

Paul Galt

Paul Galt

Scarface, Goodfellas, A Bronx Tale.

Mar 26 - 11:34 PM

Bazooka Jew

Bazooka Jew

He wasn't asking you guys.

Mar 29 - 11:32 PM

Grand M.

Grand Mesa

Geraldine.......if you come here for a recommendation..................you are in big, big trouble and deserve to keep on paying for garbage like this.

Jun 1 - 10:48 AM

James Lockard

James Lockard

I understood the movie was about a hitman that strived to kill his targets in a humane manner (Killing Them Softly).. Other than that it was a pure socialistic political statement. I do not believe that even in a socialistic environment that this movie would have beeen view as anything orther than a complete waste of time. The creators should have at least started with a good script. Although I do not aggree with there messsage I strongly agree with there having the freedom to say it. Go buy your nearest Veterans Administration and thank a Vet..
If you guys get tired of not progressing your agenda take a sabatical, or better yet use the freedom you are provided and make a decision to go and not come back...

Jan 24 - 02:06 PM

Justin Anderson

Justin Anderson

It all comes down to the perspective of film as entertainment or film as art. If you're willing to forgo film as art you're actually ditching a great force in media that makes us think, tests our beliefs and allows us to see the parralels in life that can reflect our most inner and dirty cores. This film is a call for change in a not so perfect system and it uses it's characters brilliantly to show you "that business is dirty". and only a clever criminal like Jackie could say something like that in cinema and mean it.


Feb 12 - 04:17 AM

James Lockard

James Lockard

I understood the movie was about a hitman that strived to kill his targets in a humane manner (Killing Them Softly).. Other than that it was a pure socialistic political statement. I do not believe that even in a socialistic environment that this movie would have beeen view as anything orther than a complete waste of time. The creators should have at least started with a good script. Although I do not aggree with there messsage I strongly agree with there having the freedom to say it. Go buy your nearest Veterans Administration and thank a Vet..
If you guys get tired of not progressing your agenda take a sabatical, or better yet use the freedom you are provided and make a decision to go and not come back...

Jan 24 - 02:06 PM

Adriel Bennett

Adriel Bennett

Also, @Jeff mills, No, not well said. "No good" is how a 5 year old reacts to apple sauce, it's not how an adult man interprets a piece of art

Jan 22 - 12:01 PM

Adriel Bennett

Adriel Bennett

KTS is a masterpiece. Look at every person writing negative reviews: Not the target audience. This is what happened with fight club when it initially came out, It totally polarized every old person and every doughy right-winger and they all thumbed their noses. give it a five years I promise KTS will be on the same level as The godfather and Goodfellas.

Jan 22 - 11:56 AM

pat

Pat S.

When I watch a movie, I want to be entertained.
I don't want to be spend 2 hours listening to what some ideologue director thinks of the Financial Crisis and capitalism.

Jan 20 - 11:25 AM

Jeff Mills

Jeff Mills

I don't give credit to a movie for "achieving exactly what it sets out to do" if what it sets out to do is no good.

Jan 18 - 07:15 PM

pat

Pat S.

Well said.

Jan 20 - 11:21 AM

Fermin Aviles

Fermin Aviles

Great summary. This movie was awesome.

Jan 17 - 01:40 PM

James Ramsay

James Ramsay

Awesome summary.

Jan 7 - 06:04 PM

Adam Hudson

Adam Hudson

Superb? You're an idiot.

Jan 7 - 06:05 AM

Brandon Dehler

Brandon Dehler

And you're a jackass. Congratulations.

Jan 11 - 10:25 AM

Jack T.

Jack Telfon

Thank goodness there are still intelligent movie-watchers out there.

Dec 29 - 03:26 PM

pat

Pat S.

Self-praise is no recommendation.

(And yes, praising people who share your opinion for how "intelligent" their opinion makes them, is nothing other than smug self-praise.)

Jan 20 - 11:29 AM

Corey Hammond

Corey Hammond

just like the filmmaker, narcissistic

May 22 - 05:48 PM

Alex Aston

Alex Aston

I'd agree I'd say it was on of the years best, I'm not worrying though, the film will probably get a solid cult following once it's released on Blue Ray.

Dec 14 - 02:51 PM

Cowfeet

Lauren Hadaway

Thank you!

Dec 10 - 10:56 AM

Ben Kullerd

Ben Kullerd

Matt, I get all of that, and I think most intelligent moviegoers will, too, but that doesn't mean it wasn't heavy handed. For those versed in even the simplest idea of what a metaphor is and who have been paying attention in even the slightest ways to the state of the American economy, I would think the 'message' of this movie is painfully obvious. My main problem with the movie is that it is heavy-handed, not that it was confusing or unclear. It's TOO clear. Answer this question: if ALL of the billboards, speech soundbites and TV clips of Bush and Obama had been omitted, would you have had any problem putting together the symbolism intended by the director and screenwriter? For me, the answer is no, which makes all of those added elements distracting and unnecessary.

Dec 9 - 12:45 PM

Matt Bate

Matt Bate

Completely get where you're coming from Ben. I do understand that it was heavy handed. Audience understanding or not, I believe the 'heavy handedness' was a choice by Dominik to not understate the issue. In answer to your question - I think the symbolism would be harder to put together, but not entirely impossible. There are many cues in the script that you can clearly draw from the GFC (Jenkins + Pitt, Gandolfini, the end of the film) but could have ultimately been lost in the gangster story of the film. It was a tough ask for Dominik, he could have gone either way, but I still maintain the heavy handedness of the film as a means of preventing the underrepresentation of the GFC and highlighting the damage it has done to the American people of all classes.

Dec 13 - 07:50 PM

Frank Harris

Frank Harris

This is good food for thought Matt. And I agree with you position on this film: there are times when stories can be subtle so the audience figures things out or comes to their own conclusions, and then there are times when a tree just needs to be a tree. The fact that the film reflects the way the world looks today is great. It'll be appreciated as someone else said when it goes to video and people can really take their time understanding the story. I also get people who came expecting a lot of over-the-top excitement; there is a little deception in a poster of Brad Pitt holding a rifle, the strong title and exciting trailer. I think there needs to be more films that are smart as opposed to just violent. And the comparisons to Goodfellas aren't fair; that is a different style of film from a different time.

Dec 18 - 04:51 PM

Brandon Dehler

Brandon Dehler

I see what you're saying Ben, but, I think it's rather difficult to speculate on what you believe the film would have been like had your suggestions been enforced. It would be interesting to reedit the film with all mentions of business or politics removed.

Jan 11 - 10:29 AM

Chris Turton

Chris Turton

Agreed!!

Dec 8 - 01:55 AM

Zach Thomas

Zach Idiculla

tl;dr. Will do so after finals are done...

Dec 6 - 10:06 PM

Ryan Hoffman

Ryan Hoffman

Thank you for this! At least I'm not the only one who thought the film was awesome in both its regular story and its politics. :)

Dec 5 - 09:53 PM

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