Starring: Dario Grandinetti, Goya Toledo
Spanish torture nonsense for the broadsheet reading crowd, Killing Words is less about plucking out eyeballs with a spoon and more the power of words. Although they do talk about plucking out eyeballs with spoons, so it's a little bit about that too. Mild-mannered psychopath Ramon (Grandinetti) kidnaps ex-wife and psychiatrist Laura (Toledo) and ties her to a chair in his basement. Soon she'll wish he was more the Jigsaw sort of serial killer, since Ramon evidently likes the sound of his own voice and plans to talk her to death. Laura is easy to sympathise with in this movie. The verbal diarrhea of an annoying ex is far worse than eyeball torture.
Being set in a basement for the majority of the running time, Killing Words is all about the verbal sparring between kidnapper and victim. With Laura being Ramon's ex wife, there's a different sort of dynamic than you'd usually get in this kind of film, reminiscent of a less sexy Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down (true story fact fans, my favourite ever romcom). It's slow and boring at times, but the tension is racked up with sequences set in the movie's own future, depicting police officers questioning Ramon as to Laura's whereabouts. It's never nail-biting stuff, but it does keep one wondering.
Being nothing but lengthy dialogue scenes, Killing Words works and feels like a stage play adaptation. And perhaps it would work better onstage, where intellectuals can go rub their chin and say things like "hmm" and "yes, interesting." Not that I didn't think these things, but Killing Words doesn't always feel very cinematic. Still, it's well acted and very pretty looking.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but Killing Words is actually quite good.