Killing Me Softly (2003) - Rotten Tomatoes

Killing Me Softly (2003)




Critic Consensus: Respected director Chen Kaige's first English-language film is a spectacularly misguided erotic thriller, with ludicrous plot twists and cringe-worthy dialogue.

Killing Me Softly Videos

Killing Me Softly Photos

Movie Info

The director of such highly regarded films as Yellow Earth (1984) and Farewell, My Concubine (1993), Chinese filmmaker Chen Kaige makes his English-language debut with this erotic thriller adapted from the novel by Nicci French. Alice (Heather Graham) is an American Web designer living in Illinois who falls for a ruggedly handsome mountain climber named Adam (Joseph Fiennes). Bored with her dull love live, sparks begin to fly when Alice and Adam have a chance meeting at a stoplight, and it isn't long before the couple are living together and Adam proposes. With their heated romance taking on hints of mild S & M following their wedding, Alice's realization that she knows very little about her new spouse begins to take on ominous undertones when she discovers that his former fiancée died under mysterious circumstances. Allegations of rape and more missing lovers soon prompt Alice to continue her increasingly disturbing investigation toward answers she may not be ready to accept.
Art House & International , Drama , Mystery & Suspense , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:

Watch it now


Joseph Fiennes
as Adam Tallis
Kika Markham
as Mrs. Blanchard
Ian Hart
as Daniel
Amy Robbins
as Sylvic
Olivia Poulet
as Alice's Secretary
Olivia Poulex
as Alice's Secretary
Ian Aspinall
as Alice's Co-Worker
Patrick Field
as Bartender
Oliver Ryan
as Bookshop Assistant
Donald Gee
as Vicar
Tim Faraday
as Street Cop
Richard Green
as Interview Cop
Lee Boswell
as Interview Cop
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Killing Me Softly

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (4)

As Graham attempts to uncover the truth about his past, the film grows increasingly convoluted, leading to a twist ending that will come as a surprise only to those who've never seen a Shannon Tweed movie.

Full Review… | August 3, 2009
AV Club
Top Critic

A turgid erotic thriller that plays like Zalman King-meets-vintage Brian De Palma without the latter's wit or style.

Full Review… | May 21, 2008
Top Critic

Inane and shopworn material with a truly cheesy final twist, this is made excruciating by direction that takes it all deadly seriously.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

What a great shame that such a talented director as Chen Kaige has chosen to make his English-language debut with a film so poorly plotted and scripted.

June 11, 2002
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Killing Me Softly lingers under the delusion that it's Hitchcock remade for a more permissive era, rather than Cinemax fare with pretensions to art.

Full Review… | August 12, 2013
The Dissolve

The screenplay (based on Nicci French's novel) is cringeworthy, and Kaige's inability to spot when English-speaking thesps are reciting rather than acting produces scenes that vary from lifeless to laughable.

Full Review… | August 3, 2009
Total Film

Audience Reviews for Killing Me Softly

Killing Me Softly is a goofy, unintentionally funny, and oddly stylish erotic thriller. In the tradition of other goofy erotic/thriller films like Sliver, Color Of Night, Basic Instinct 1 & 2, In The Cut, and Passion (The 2012 Brian De Palma version), comes a film no fan of camp should miss out on. It is a gleefully stupid and hilarious film that is waiting to be discovered as the next camp classic. Marvel at the terrible script, gloriously awful dialogue, campy acting, jaw-droppingly awful plot twists, and artsy direction to complement the cheesy tone of the film, and you've got a howler of a film. The film focuses on a woman named Alice who is a web designer from Illinois who is now living and working in London who enjoys her job and is even in a long-term relationship with a boyfriend whom she is living with. Still, something seems to be missing in her life. That all changes during a chance encounter on the street with a man named Adam Tallis. During that chance meeting, there is an instant spark between the two, which results in an intense sexual encounter before they end up parting ways. This one moment causes a massive shift in Alice's life, and she pursues the man who is named Adam, who is struggling with the guilt from a mountain climbing accident which cost the lives of all the members of his mountain climbing team, including his fiance at the time. Alice ends up leaving her boyfriend and moves in with Adam, which soon results in a marriage proposal, which she is ecstatic about. But in the midst of such happiness, Alice begins to receive mysterious letters and phone calls warning her about Adam's past, which she blows off, going forward with the wedding plans (As well as more intense sexual encounters). But as the letters and warnings continue, a seed of doubt is planted in her mind, and she is determined to get to the bottom of the potential mystery at hand, unearthing shocking secrets that threaten her life. The story has a lot of interesting ideas, but they are lost in a sea of cheesy character development, an abundance of trashy sex scenes, and plot twists that will have you simultaneously laughing and scratching your head as they unfold. The story is ultimately a mess of romance, thriller, eroticism, and other elements, culminating in many moments worthy of chuckles or outbursts of full blown laughter because of how utterly ridiculous they are. The story is only entertaining on a trashy, campy sort of level. However, I was legitimately compelled during the first 30 minutes of the film before it suddenly derailed into madness and hilarity. While I enjoyed the campy qualities quite thoroughly as a lover of B-movies, it's a shame that a promising start fell apart. The actors try their hardest and I really can't fault them. It's the fault of a shoddy the script that ultimately dooms them, because they really do try to make the material work. I do have to compliment them for being able to retain a straight face, even during the particularly ludicrous moments of the film (Especially the last 15 or so minutes which produce some of the biggest gut-busting moments in the film). But I will legitimately compliment the performances of the leads, Heather Graham and Ralph Fiennes, because I do feel they did a solid job, even with all the ridiculous shit going on in the film. Oh man, for entertainment, if you like thrillers filled with gaping plot holes, cheesy characters, and howlers for plot twists, you're in for a real treat, B-movie fan. If you come to watch this film looking for a legitimately good erotic thriller, you will hate it, and your head will probably explode trying to rationalize all the ridiculous things you are seeing. Killing Me Softly is a glorious trainwreck for an erotic thriller. It's a B-movie classic that is waiting to be discovered by connoisseurs of crap because it offers so much entertainment value. Unless you are a B-movie fanatic, stay the hell away from this film.

Keenan Sullivan
Keenan Sullivan

Utter trash but I somehow managed to gte through this because I focussed on how lovely Joesph Fiennes looks in this film ^_^ However, it's poorly directed, acted, written..the list is endless. Would recomend this is Joesh Fiennes films but besides that avoid it at all costs. Just terrible.

Sarah Gaish
Sarah Gaish

Super Reviewer

Well, I had to review this film like this, whether the plot was the most sophisticated thriller, or whether the love scenes were copied from another film it was beside the point. Every woman would like to meet a man like Joseph Fiennes' character and be swept off her feet and have great sex and all the attention in the world. I think most of those who did not like the film must be men cause they know, they' don't have the guts to be a man like that... ( i m kidding) well, I recommend this film as a truly romantic love story and the kinky sex was also not the point of the story. Girls, u will really love this film and Joseph Fiennes is, of course wonderfully gorgeous and convincing and lovable in every scene, and Heather Graham was beautiful. The wedding night idea was absolutely brilliant. ( hi hi )

Daisy  Maduro
Daisy Maduro

Super Reviewer

Killing Me Softly Quotes

Discussion Forum

Discuss Killing Me Softly on our Movie forum!

News & Features