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Carlos Prime [Film Festival 09.29.15] Netherlands comedy thriller

Awoken on his birthday by his loving family, Schneider has to head to work on his day off. He's far too collected and rigidly disciplined to be the ordinary government sanitation worker we think he is- because it's quickly revealed he's secretly been a contract killer for what looks like a very long career. Having been called in to perform a time-sensitive task, Schneider is informed his target is an alleged child murderer - Bax.

After his original plan to assassinate Bax is botched by pure happenstance, Schneider must rework the entire plan from the ground up to keep his pristine reputation and record exactly the way he likes it. Only now, Bax's girlfriend broke up with him and wants her belongings from his house. And his daughter is coming to visit. And perhaps anyone else who feels like joining in the action to be at the exact wrong place at the worst time.

What starts out as a supposed quick-and-easy hit turns into a logistical nightmare, challenging Schneider like never before in a sea of witnesses, missed opportunities, and double-crosses. He's got to take out Bax, leave no one to tell the tale, collect his money, and not take any of it personally. But can he make it home in time for dinner?

It feels like it could have easily been adapted from a stage performance- Schneider vs Bax is a tightly impressive film with heaping amounts of irony and circumstantial awareness. Rotating between just a few locations (and the labyrinth of reeds in between), the constant opening and closing of doors to new locations is sharp and darkly comedic.

Alex van Warmerdam impressed Drafthouse Films with his previous film Borgman review), and his latest does not fall short of its mark. Between tense shootouts and standoffs, van Warmerdam shows his tough-as-nails main characters to be as human as anyone else in the film. From Bax's chronic drug abuse and cluelessness regarding his children to Schneider's dual life being kept at bay, the characters are vivid and give elaborate stories to their pasts with little effort.

Playing the titular target himself, van Warmerdam on both sides of the camera put together a funny, tense, and oddly realistic film. A small-cast crime story with plenty of wrong turns; as if Oscar Wilde wrote a screenplay for Guy Ritchie.

Recommended Release: Borgman

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