Venice, Hit Man by Linklater (out of competition): noir, comedy, thriller and true story


By John

This extraordinary and true story, told with genius and recklessness, comes, as often happens, directly from reality Hit Man by Richard Linklater (School of Rock), film out of competition in Venice and which in Italy will be distributed by Bim. The protagonist of this noir comedy is Gary Johnson (Glen Powell), a psychology professor who quotes Nietzsche and Freud when he lectures students and who supplements his salary by collaborating with the New Orleans police as an undercover investigator. More precisely, Gary pretends to be a hitman to arrest those people, and there will be many, who hire him believing him to be an effective professional killer. But when a desperate and beautiful woman, Madison (Adria Ajrona), enters her professional life and tries to escape from her violent boyfriend, he falls in love with her, not without consequences.

The film, as already mentioned, tells a true story, in fact it is based on a 2001 article by journalist Skip Hollandsworth in Texas Monthly.«“Hit Man – explains the director, known for directing the trilogy Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight – is freely inspired by an article I read almost twenty years ago in Texas Monthly magazine, concerning a crime event that actually happened. The film aims to mix different genres – comedy, noir, thriller, psychological drama – but above all to investigate the concept of identity, and how much our personality can, or cannot, change.”

Regarding the real Gary Johnson, who died before the end of the film, Linklater says: «I spoke to him several times on the phone. Gary was a strange character, a person who lived and let live. He was also a true Buddhist and a Vietnam veteran who didn’t seem too interested in the project of a film about his life and so, in the end, he was never seen on the set. Where does Hit Man’s comedic streak come from? «He doesn’t hide any secrets, the fact is that I always see things from the point of view of comedy, the comic potential of things. In my works there is a serious side, but then there is also laughter.”

Among the motivations that pushed Linklater to make this film, he explains «there is the fact that in pop culture, there are very few hitmen who get arrested. It’s easier for you to go to jail if you sell weed, yet everyone loves this type of character, the hitman is an object of worship and yet he is just a criminal who kills for money. We like his violence, perhaps we identify with it.”