Opening 12 Jun 2008
Ben Kingsley plays Frank Falenczyk, the alcoholic nephew of a Polish mafia boss in Buffalo, New York. Frank is a professional killer but, because of his drinking problem and a major mess up at his job, he is sent to San Francisco to dry out. At Alcoholics Anonymous he befriends Tom (Luke Wilson) and admits to his AA group that he doesn't regret killing but that he just wants to be good at his job.
Through his uncle's California contact Frank gets work at a funeral home. Instead of becoming morbid in this atmosphere, he learns to find humor in his job. A tattoo on a body, for example, even provides him with his new motto: "one day at a time." When her stepfather dies and ends up at Frank's funeral parlor, he meets Laurel (Tea Leoni). Laurel has an upfront attitude. She says what she means and means what she says. As their relationship develops they are helping each other cope with their own personal demons.
The film won't win awards since there is practically no plot, but the subtle, deadpan humor and quirky romance make for a good time. Ben Kingsley has his accent down pat, and my favorite scenes were the lively Irish wake (which, unfortunately, causes Frank to start drinking again) and an artistic, very well choreographed scene of Frank teaching Lauren how to handle a knife (which, fortunately, saves his life at the end of the film). (Thelma Freedman)