A very fine movie that just misses the mark of greatness by a hair. I’d say it begins to veer off course around the point when the Jamaican Bible thumper shows up in Bob Hoskin’s back yard as he’s digging a grave. But I’m jumping ahead.
To describe this film as a serial killer thriller is deceiving. Silence of the Lambs this is not. Better to say it’s a British serial killer story, or even better–it’s a serial killer drama based on the book by William Trevor. It’s not so much about the crimes, as it is about how the two central characters, Mr. Hilditch (Bob Hoskins) and his next intended victim (Elaine Cassidy), arrive at the intersection of their lives.
Bob Hoskins was made to play this role, conveying the right balance of sincerity and kindness with a pathological neediness that leads to murder. The story’s pace is slow and deliberate. There are no car chases speeding to the rescue. There’s no hysterical scene where the victim pleads for mercy while the mad killer rants and raves his explanation to the victim (and the audience) just moments before the climax of the film. This film is full of quiet moments that gradually develop each character and the relationship between them. It could be for that reason that the ending of the picture seems a bit rushed and out of sync with the rest of the film. [**** out of 5]