Meet William (Aneurin Barnard) a forlorn writer who is convinced that his life has no purpose and dying is the only way out. After yet another failed attempt at suicide, he crosses paths with an “Angel of Death” assassin, Leslie (Tom Wilkinson), who promises to fulfill his wish once and for all.
There are odd moments in Dead in a Week, directed by Tom Edmunds, where Leslie and William are sitting down to discuss the details of the contract, complete with a brochure titled “Your Death, Your Way.” The pamphlet has various options of death that you can choose from, including pictures. If you haven’t guessed by now, dark humour is rampant in this British film and there is no shortage of mockery on such a grim topic.
With some pretty off-the-wall humour and morbid scenes, I was reminded a bit of filmmakers; the Cohen Brothers, who seem to delight or disturb their audiences. At times, it’s hard not to laugh because although William continues to muster up the courage to die, it doesn’t seem like he can even do that properly. There is a short little montage of all his suicide attempts, including the most ridiculous one, where he sticks his head in the oven, but the gas suddenly turns off. In the background, “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tiffany is playing.
William has lovable qualities and who can resist those puppy-dog eyes, but his preoccupation with dying seems unconvincing. After making all necessary arrangements, out of the blue, William gets a call from Ellie (Freya Mavor), who is a publisher’s assistant and seems very keen on his book. A romantic love connection forms between them, making William realize that he may just want to live. Unfortunately, a signed contract is taken very seriously for Leslie, who is teetering on forced retirement if he doesn’t fulfill his quota for “kills” during the week. He is less than impressed with William’s sudden revelation.
Things that could go wrong, go wrong, oh so very wrong. People are accidentally killed and William is once again escaping death, this time hand-in-hand with Ellie. The dark humour really comes into play during one scene between Leslie and his boss, Harvey, (played by the eccentric Christopher Eccleston). The interaction has funny elements, but seems to trail off into a zone where the initial joke gets lost in the banter.
Despite some flaws, I found this film oddly sentimental in very unexpected ways. The obscurity of how suicide is portrayed might not sit well with everyone, but sometimes it reminds us not to take life too seriously after all.
The film is available on your favourite VOD service this month.