Kill Your Friends review: An oddly amusing American Psycho rip-off

This parasitic movie of a parasitic music industry insider has an unsubtle script but keeps you watching, says Michael Joyce.

The Insider is a rather fine Michael Mann film with Al Pacino and Russell Crowe about the whistle blower who exposed the truth of how dangerous cigarettes are. Nobody went to see it, of course, because old news is old news, no matter how you deliver it. Kill Your Friends wants to shock us with revelations about how venal and hateful the music biz is. There are no alarms and no surprises here, but it is at least set in 1997, the tail end of the Britpop era before anyone had heard of Simon Cowell - probably the last time the music biz could realistically be the setting for a tussle between art and commerce.

Kill Your Friends offers Nicholas Hoult (or Young Nicholas Hoult as we all still think of him as) the chance to be a murderous, amoral heartthrob; to go the full Christian Bale/ Tom Hardy. He plays Stelfox, an exceptionally ruthless but largely clueless A&R man, who doesn’t really like music but will stop at nothing to stay in a job which keeps him supplied with a steady stream of drugs, booze and sex, and all of it on the expense account. Hoult started out as the kid opposite Hugh Grant in About A Boy and more than a decade later he still seems to be heavily influenced by his on screen father figure. Because they are such different types it isn’t obvious, but watch closely and I think you’ll catch facial expressions and line deliveries that are just like Grant when he’s in evil bastard mode.

Kill Your Friends is a parasitic film about a parasitic profession. Stelfox wants to build his success off of other people’s talent and John Niven’s script, adapted from his own book, piggybacks off American Psycho. Its cynicism seems second hand, like children appropriating grown up swear words. Callous, misanthropic witticisms actually take a bit of grace and subtlety to get right and Niven’s dialogue only rarely reaches it.

So, why does what is clearly a two star review have three stars at the top of it? Because as the lights went up at the end, a smile crossed my face and I realised that despite all the scribbled objections in my lap I had thoroughly enjoyed this rather trite little Britpop Psycho number. There’s no accounting for taste is there?


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Rating: 3/5 stars

Visit halfmanhalfcritic.weebly.com for a review of Palio, a documentary about the world’s oldest horse race around the streets of Sienna.

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