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Diary of a Hitman Movie Review

whitaker fenn forest london

Sherilyn Fenn may not have the marquee value of Kim Basinger—yet—but just wait. The smashingly talented alumnus of Twin Peaks can act rings around most other actresses of her generation as she demonstrates in Roy London's 1992 film noir sleeper, Diary of a Hitman, starring Forest Whitaker. Whitaker plays a hired gun who is paid by Lewis Smith to execute his wife (Fenn) and their baby. Whitaker's character has already begun to agonize over his profession, but he is unprepared for Fenn's sheer vivacity. He hesitates, and that hesitation forms the basis for Kenneth Press man's narrative (based on his play, Insider's Price). Fenn gives extraordinary dimension to the role of the would-be victim. First, she can't wait for her husband to come home; then, as she realizes that Whitaker has come to kill her baby and herself on her husband's orders, she fights like a tiger to survive. One by one, she tries every resource at her disposal, always tapping into her internal strengths as an actress, never employing the easy external tricks that might have created a flashy, but far less real, character. Whitaker, too, is quite moving as the conscience-stricken assassin. With a brilliant series of emotional mood swings, he captures both the extreme danger and the capacity for deep feeling that are central to the life-and-death conflict in Diary of a Hitman. Michel Columbier's fine jazz score enhances Roy London's striking visual style, and the supporting cast members (James Belushi, Seymour Cassel, Lois Chiles, and a nearly unrecognizable Sharon Stone) are exceptionally good; they are usually the stars in other films. The killer with a heart of gold is the stuff of pure theatre, nearly a cliche. Thanks to the expert work of Forest Whitaker and Sherilyn Fenn, the complex relationship between killer and victim also serves to reveal the existential angst lurking beneath all our meaningless rituals.

1991 (R) 90m/C Forest Whitaker, James Belushi, Sherilyn Fenn, Sharon Stone, Seymour Cassel, Lewis Smith, Lois Chiles, John Bedford-Lloyd; D: Roy London; W: Kenneth Pressman; M: Michel Colombier. VHS, LV, Closed Caption

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