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Killing Zoe

A version of the poster for the film featuring the character Eric.
Directed by Roger Avary
Produced by Samuel Hadida (Producer)
Quentin Tarantino (Executive Producer)
Lawrence Bender (Executive Producer)
Rebecca Boss (Executive Producer)
Written by Roger Avary
Starring Eric Stoltz
Julie Delpy
Jean-Hugues Anglade
Music by tomandandy
Cinematography Tom Richmond
Editing by Kathryn Himoff
Distributed by October Films and Live Entertainment
Release date(s) August 19, 1994
Running time 96 mins
Country USA
Language English
Budget $1.5 million[1]

Killing Zoe is a 1994 film, written and directed by Roger Avary. The story details a safe cracker named Zed who returns to France to aid an old friend in performing a doomed bank heist. Killing Zoe is regarded as a respected "cult" favorite[2] and has been labeled by Roger Ebert as "Generation X's first bank caper movie."[3]



Zed (Eric Stoltz), a professional safe-cracker, comes to Paris to help a childhood friend, Eric (Jean-Hugues Anglade), with a bank heist. In the cab on the way to his hotel room, the cabbie obtains a prostitute for him. He arrives at his hotel room and is greeted by the prostitute, Zoe (Julie Delpy). After having sex, they talk with each other amiably. They are soon interrupted when Eric barges in and sends Zoe out of the room.

Eric takes Zed back to his residence where Zed meets Eric's friends. Eric explains his plans: the following day is Bastille Day and virtually everything is closed except for the bank they plan to rob, which is a holding bank and thus is open even on holidays. Zed forgoes his rest time to spend the night partying with Eric and his friends among some of the more disreputable people of Paris, which Eric refers to as 'the Real Paris'. During the binging, Eric confides to Zed that he has AIDS.

The next day, Zed is awakened by Eric as they prepare to enter the bank. The team dons Carnival masks to hide their faces before bursting into the bank. They quickly kill those who do not cooperate as they escort Zed (who has not witnessed the killings) to the safe so he can get to work. Their plans soon start becoming fouled as the police show up and they're faced with the possibility of going to jail for life or having to shoot their way out. Tensions become even higher when Zed recognizes Zoe (who coincidentally works at the bank) and attempts to protect her, to the fury of Eric.

A vicious gunfight between the police, Eric, and the rest of the gang begins—- with Zed caught 'innocently' in the middle. Eric throws explosive into a vault and enters it (wounding a guard mortally in the process - Zed himself shoots the guard as an act of mercy), finding a large supply of gold bars—- but the thieves can't leave the bank alive with their fortune. Eric's men are killed by the police as they rush the bank, and Zed and Eric begin to fight each other. The police shoot Eric to death. He falls on Zed, splattering great amounts of blood on him in the process (possibly exposing Zed to his HIV-infected blood). Injured, Zed is led away quickly by Zoe, who covers for him, stating he is a bank customer. They drive away in her car, where Zoe promises Zed that when he gets well she'll show him the 'real' Paris.


Killing Zoe was director Roger Avary's feature directorial debut. Producer Lawrence Bender had scouted a bank location in Los Angeles as a possible filming location for Reservoir Dogs. Knowing he could attain the location for very little, and being a savvy producer, Bender telephoned all the screenwriters he knew and asked if they had any screenplays that took place in a bank. Avary told him he had one, even though he didn't, and proceeded to write one in a reported week and a half. Avary stated he wanted to make "an art-house film for both the coffeehouse crowd and the exploitation crowd."[4]

The movie, despite being set in Paris, was filmed almost entirely in Los Angeles, California. Only the opening credit roll was filmed in France.[5]

In an interview included on the DVD, Avary explains how he wanted to make a movie about how nihilistic he felt his generation was, and said that watching Stoltz in the film was like seeing his evil twin come into creation. He wrote the script specifically for Stoltz. Both he and Stoltz admitted they had a fantasy to rob a bank (though Stoltz qualified this with ‘and not go to jail’!) and making this movie was as close as they would get.

Avary stated that, as a first time director, it was a dream to work with actors as talented as Jean-Hugues Anglade, Eric Stoltz and Julie Delpy.

Killing Zoe is notable as the first feature film to use the newly invented Otto Nemitz Swing & Tilt lenses, which were used during the heroin sequences for perspective distortion instead of their original purpose of perspective correction.

Cultural references

During a sex scene in the beginning of the movie, Zed and Zoe have the TV on as "background noise", with the camera showing parts of the 1922 vampire horror film, Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror.



The film won the Grand Prize award at the 5th Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival held in February 1994. Jury members that year included Roger Vadim and Dennis Hopper.[6]


External links

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