Killing Zoe

Killing Zoe

by Roger Avary (1993)

Zed is a skilled safecracker who travels to Paris to rob a bank with a gang of criminals led by the Frenchman Eric.


“What’s the plan?”

“We go in, take everything, and get out!”

(Zed & Eric)


There are two different ways of thinking about the French capital.

The first is Eric’s, a cynical and violent heroin addict who immerses himself in the darkness of the streets and underground clubs.

His nights are filled with debauchery, high-speed chases towards madness and self-destruction. No apparent feeling towards other people, just the obsession with completing a heist.

And then there’s Zoe, who is interested in the city above ground. The one filled with light, monuments, tourism, and life.

She calls it “the real Paris” and promises a suffering and bleeding Zoe to show it to him soon.

Zoe and Eric, then. Two faces that are part of the same universe but stand at opposite ends. Two characters who suddenly burst into Zed’s life, disrupting it.


Roger Avary, coming from Tarantino’s school, makes his directorial debut with this film and wins the first prize at Mystfest.

His cinema, pulp and gangster-like as Quentin’s, finds strength and originality not so much in writing but in the purely visual component.

We have the use of wide angles, irregular camera movements, and well-studied and calibrated chiaroscuro.

All this gives the scenes an oppressive and claustrophobic atmosphere that fits well with the sudden explosions of violence and blood that run through the film.

Another courageous peculiarity is giving the film a very irregular rhythm.

Deliberately very slow in the first half, where the characters are introduced and studied, it becomes frenetic and enveloping in the second part, during the heist.

Avary brings to the screen an ugly, dirty, and mean world, where there are no more values or human relationships, but only a sick obsession with money and possession.

These characteristics come to light clearly in the character of Eric, an anti-hero with dark and empty eyes like those of a shark, played by a magnificent Jean-Hugues Anglade.

Julie Delpy, on the other hand, in the role of the titular Zoe, manages to be both sweet and determined, overshadowing, in my opinion, the good performance of Stoltz/Zed.

Killing Zoe is a film that has flown somewhat under the radar, often dismissed as a simple imitation of Tarantino’s cinema (here as executive producer).

In reality, it is a product absolutely worth rediscovering, enjoying its own style, and representing an excellent directorial debut.

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