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Cannes: Andrew Dominik On The Violence, Politics & Look Of 'Killing Them Softly' With Brad Pitt

by Aaron Hillis
May 24, 2012 2:19 PM
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This is violent, and there's so much style as to how the violence is presented. How do you want audiences to react to it?
Well, there's a different approach to violence in this movie, because of the characters’ attitudes towards it. You know in other movies, it's always a really emotional situation and it's ugly in some way. But I just wanted [character name redacted]’s death to be like a lullaby. And I'm not really sure why. I think it has something to do with the impact that the other murders have later, if you play that one softly. Once you do something violent in a film, you don't have to do too much. You do it once and the feeling of violence just stays there, do you know what I'm saying? The idea behind the slow motion death is to remove that ugly feeling from it, so I can put it back in later.

I got in a debate with a female critic who thought it was such a boys’ story. Was that intentional to not have any women? I think there’s just the one prostitute character.
Yeah, and I was trying to figure out how to cut her out too, because I didn't want to have any woman in the picture, but I wanted them to be talking about women constantly, and women were always a source of mystery, frustration or heartbreak.

This would have been a period piece if you were adapting it straight, but I like the fact that there's this anachronistic thing of the characters having a '70s look, but it's clearly set in 2008. How did you negotiate that tone?
All I really thought was that Jackie should be in black, and I think Brad came up with the sunnies and [costume designer] Patty [Norris] came up with the clothes. Brad came up with the hair which I think was basically my hair.

You do have similar hair.
I don't know if that’s where it came from or not, but I always used to say, imagine that you're me.

Do you feel as cynical as this film was in general?
No. I think it's a really complicated system because money, I've become really interested in it because it's my paint, if you like, and I think that if you want to understand what's going on in any situation, you have to follow the money. It seems like it's really fucking out of control you know? The difficulty is that in a democracy, you have to persuade people and it costs a lot of money. You have to get it from somewhere and the people that have money have their own interests, and how does all of that get balanced out? But that's the price you pay for democracy. In the movie they can just shoot the problem, we can't do that under rule of law. It's just one way of looking at things, and I don't know what's going to happen. It seemed for a minute there like there was going to be a conflagration, and maybe it's still coming, you know? At the time, the whole bailout thing was sold as a way of avoiding catastrophe, like it was going to be ATMs were not going to be spitting money out unless the government took all of this money from the taxpayer and gave it to all of these people who had essentially robbed. I don't really understand it all. I don't know what would have happened if they had just let it fail, it would have been really interesting.

Are you optimistic that something could actually happen or do you think we're too stuck in policy?
I don't know. They had a depression and everything rebuilt itself after that.

"Killing Them Softly" opens on September 21st. 

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  • tristan eldritch | May 24, 2012 3:01 PMReply

    One thing I'll never get about Pit: why does he always rock that up-market trailer park look, like he's the only person on earth who saw Colin Farrell in the Miami Vice movie, and thought: "Wow, that look is amazing!"

  • George | May 25, 2012 3:12 AM

    If it was dirty and uncombed I could see it that way. To me it's more of a laid back causaul Rock star look. I think most of america has move past Brad looks and are more concerned with the movies he put outs. Which you can't say about these no talent no experience disney acting generation.

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