Standing on the side of a bridge observing the water below, William (Aneurin Barnard) prepares for the final moments of his life. Or at least what he hopes will be the end. After eight failed suicide attempts, the depressed writer cannot even seem to get death right.
As fate would have it, William meets the mysterious Leslie (Tom Wilkinson), a man who has the exact skills that he needs. You see Leslie is an assassin who works for an organization that specializes in contract work, especially those of the assisted death nature. Refusing to retire, despite despising that the craft of the job has been replaced by corporate quotas, the aging killer agrees to take William on as a client.
Told that he will be killed in a week, William happily gets his final days in order. However, things take an unexpected turn when his manuscript on his numerous attempted suicides captures the attention of book editor Ellie (Freya Mavor). Wanting to see how the possible book deal will play out, William hopes to delay his contract for a few weeks, which does not sit well with Leslie who needs to hit his target numbers to keep his boss Harvey (Christopher Eccleston) happy.
Tom Edmunds feature length debut is filled with absurdist moments that generate some decent laughs. However, the film never hits as bitingly as its daring premise would lead you to believe. Despite being a dark comedy about our obsession with the alluring nature of death, the film takes a surprisingly gentle approach. In a strange way, Edmunds film is a reminder that there is much to live for in life, and that our hang ups, be it career or personal, are not as important as the people who we choose to share the highs with.
It would have been nice if the morose William had been fleshed out more, which would have made the relationship arc with Ellie feel more authentic. Fortunately, Wilkson does a great job of bringing depth to Leslie. He helps to keep the film moving even in its uneven sections. While Dead in a Week (Or Your Money Back) may not quite be the killer dark comedy you expect, it does announce Edmunds as a director to keep an eye on in the future.
What, exaxtly, is “alluring” about death? That’s crazy talk man.
It is not that crazy when you think about it. As we have seen in various forms of art for decades, many people have a seductive fascination with death. It is one of the reasons the vampire genre is so popular.
While this film never dives deep into the philosophical aspects of death, it is Ellie’s own near-death experiences that, in part, brings her and William closer together.
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