THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT ***** USA 2018 Dir: Robert D Krzykowski. 97 mins
The title sounds like it could be an Asylum-style CGI-laden monster mash, but feature debut writer-director Krzykowski, channelling the spirit of BUBBA HO TEP, has instead crafted a poignant story of old age and regret, gifting veteran actor Sam Elliott the perfect showcase. Spending his dotage propping up a bar and, when needed, displaying remarkable resilience in dealing with a triple-threat mugging, Elliott is the hero that never was. He recalls the extraordinary events of the title that few people know about, his younger self effectively portrayed by Aidan Turner, but his work for the Secret Service prove incidental in his vast memory banks.
Wiping out the Fuhrer is not considered a true victory (“I killed a man, the monster lived on…”) and everything pales in significance to his failure to propose to his true love (Caitlin FitzGerald) before joining the service. Elliott’s characteristically unfussy, understated performance is at the core of an uncommonly tender movie about paths taken and seemingly tiny moments (passing on a toy dinosaur to a sibling) that become symbolic for lifelong regrets. Krzykowski’s elegiac character study veers effortlessly from low key absurdist comedy (“It doesn’t have big feet either, not living up to its name…”) to sadness, and the bittersweet mood across a range of time periods is perfectly matched by Joe Kraemer’s rich score. Produced by John Sayles, Douglas Trumbull and Lucky McKee, it’s a haunting reminder of life’s most important things – which, as it turns out, are infinitely bigger than Hitler and the Bigfoot.
Review by Steven West