Cook F**k Kill

Cook F**k Kill has an arresting opening, but as it moves through its repeating narrative chapters, there's the distinct feeling of diminishing returns

Film Review by Philip Concannon | 26 Feb 2020
  • Cook F**k Kill
Film title: Cook F**k Kill
Director: Mira Fornay
Starring: Jaroslav Plesl, Petra Fornayová, Regina Rázlová, Bohuslav Zárychta, Jan Alexander

From its title to its intriguing opening scenes, Cook F**k Kill is a film that demands the viewer's attention. Following a prologue in which a Greek Chorus of middle-aged women lay out the film’s themes, we are introduced to Jaroslav (Jaroslav Plesl), a downtrodden husband who only wants to see his kids but who instead is forced to fulfil a series of tasks for various members of his deeply dysfunctional family.

Mira Fornay’s use of long takes and her deadpan sense of absurd humour echoes filmmakers like Ulrich Seidl, Roy Andersson and Yorgos Lanthimos, while the film’s closest structural antecedent is Run Lola Run, with Fornay resetting the narrative three times to give Jaroslav the opportunity to make choices that lead us into different scenarios. 

Cook F**k Kill suffers from diminishing returns but the first of these scenarios, which pits Jaroslav against his domineering mother (Regina Rázlová), is the most potent and involving. Fornay has a knack for individual scenes that veer in unexpected directions and carry a raw emotional force, such as a history of familial abuse being revealed through a beating that Jaroslav receives from his father-in-law, and she crafts an oppressive atmosphere with the help of Dominik Dolejší’s sound design.

As the film moves through its subsequent chapters, however, the pacing stalls and too many scenes seem to lack an identifiable sense of purpose. Fornay is deliberately using repetition and a cyclical structure to explore the inescapability of fate and the nature of abuse, but her point might be more effectively made in a tighter and more focused film.

Screening at Glasgow Film Festival, Thu 27 Feb, 8.45pm & Fri 28 Feb, 1.30pm, GFT