The Film: Don’t Look For Me (2004)

The Principals: Director: Tilman Zens.  Lea Mornar, Udo Schenk, Stipe Erceg

The Premise: Anna (Mornar), if that is her real name, is a polished assassin.   She seems cold, competent, and capable as she layers on her make-up, assembles her weapons, and prepares to seduce her target.

But she’s unraveling, depending more on pills, booze, and one night stands to get her through her assignments.   She’s tired and increasingly fragile. She begs her employer and lover Lewin (Schenk) to let her go.   He icily informs her they have another client, hands her a packet, and turns his back on her.

Anna dutifully goes to work.  She finds her target — or rather, he finds her.   She fears he may know who she is, and begs Lewin to let her out of the assignment, but he insists she has to go through with it.   Will she crack?  Will she make her hit?  Will her target get her first? Or will she choose to lose herself in the arms of the gamine hotel clerk Lino (Erceg)?

Is It Good: It’s all right.  I’ll be  honest,  I picked it because I was in a lousy mood, and I wanted to see a sleek female assassin go on “one last job” and kill a bunch of people.   I chose poorly, because this is not that kind of film. Instead, it’s a desaturated study of a crumbling killer, though I suspect it’s actually meant to be a tale (or perhaps metaphor?) of domestic abuse.     So, even though I was disappointed, I can’t hold my expectations against it and say it’s a bad film.

But it’s definitely dour and not particularly inventive as far as killers-with-consciences go.  But Mornar turns in a good performance, switching from trembling and fearful girl to competent agent in the time it takes her to put on some make-up and heels.    It’s easy to see why her targets fall under her ethereal spell, though in her shakiest moments, it’s difficult to believe she’s really killed anyone.  She’s remarkably unable to throw a punch or an elbow in tight situations, and doesn’t carry nearly enough weaponry.

Is It Worth A Look: It depends on your taste. If you liked The American, but wish it was about a woman, then you’ll love Don’t Look For Me.  They’re remarkably similar right down to the casual sex, haunted protagonists, mysterious clients, and sleek Euro cafes.  However, if you hated The American, then you will want to run screaming from this.

While I was let down by it, I do have to give it praise for its gleeful de-glamming of assassins, particularly female assassins.   Don’t Look Now is the only movie I can think of that puts its protagonist in hoodies, track pants, sweaters, and tennis shoes.  She spends only a handful of frames in a cocktail dress, the rest of the time, she’s slumming it.

I was shocked that a man wrote this — no offense, menfolk — because not only does she wear chunky and functional clothing, but the film takes a moment to surprise her at the worst possible time with, well, a lady problem.   I thought that was funny.  That’s something you didn’t see in Kill Bill or Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  On one hand, you have to wonder why a movie that’s barely over an hour takes time for that, but on the other, La Femme Nikita must have had that issue once or twice too.

Another thing that’s surprising is just how soft Mornar is.  She’s not exactly rubenesque, but she has thighs that her stockings dig into, and flesh that dents when she’s curled up in the shower, and not the tightest biceps in the world.  I’d say this is kind of unrealistic for an assassin (aren’t they all trained in Krav Maga and ju jitsu?) but if you are hiring a girl to be Little Miss Ordinary, then that’s what you’d want.  If you’re a man with enemies, and hard body Angelina Jolie walks up, then you’d know she was sent to kill you. Again, I thought that was amusing, particularly since the studly young interest was so coltish and hard angled.

Random Anecdotes: Lino the love interest, aka Stipe Erceg,  is in Unknown! I did not time that, but I guess if you see that and he stands out to you, maybe  you want to watch him in this.