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“Memory of a Killer”–Losing One’s Mind

Memory of a Killer  (De Zaak Alzheimer) is a 2003 film that defies description– about an elderly hired assassin, Angelo Ledda (the wonderful Belgian actor Jan Decleir), who is recruited for one last assignment: to kill a twelve-year-old girl.  The story moves in almost black-and-white footage through the sunless streets of Antwerp where whores, wives suffering from their husbands’ infidelities, slutty widows and worn out city detectives share the territory of corruption, heartlessness, and the murderous misuse of power.

Two cops (Verstuyft and Vincke) are assigned to random murders that occur throughout the city.   Soon the trail of murders leads to a connection with Ledda who is slowly descending into an Alzheimer’s fog.

This intelligent, distinctive nail-biter, with a fresh take on the revenge drama, surprisingly transforms the hired assassin into a kind of moral hero: an aging killer with a conscience.  Ledda’s skills and sense of justice remain intact, while simultaneously lapsing into forgetfulness in an ever increasingly disorienting haze. With an electrifying visual, almost palpable energy, “Memory of a Killer” is a highly original and disturbing thriller rendered unforgettable by Jan Decleir, who quite simply owns this role. With so many “law and order” movies and television programs proliferating across our screens, it is truly a testimony to the screenwriter and director of “Memory of a Killer” that this movie brilliantly fools us even when we know what has to happen.  The twists are subtle at times, but no less unforgettable and brilliant.   Rent it on Netflix!


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