September 27, 2023



Richard Linklater’s “Hit Man” receives a fantastic reception at Venice

Richard Linklater’s “Hit Man” receives a fantastic reception at Venice

Richard Linklater’s latest crime film, known for its relaxed vibe and standout performances by Glen Powell and Adria Arjona, is emerging as a top contender at this year’s Venice Film Festival.

At the Venice Film Festival on Tuesday night, the typically unassuming Richard Linklater took the spotlight as his latest movie, “Hit Man,” had its world premiere on the Lido. This darkly humorous thriller, featuring the incredibly charming Glen Powell and Adria Arjona (who were absent due to the SAG-AFTRA strike), resonated strongly with the festival audience, garnering a six-minute standing ovation and enthusiastic cheers.

Adapted from a true-crime magazine article penned by Skip Hollandsworth, who previously collaborated with Linklater on the 2011 film “Bernie,” “Hit Man” narrates the tale of a seemingly ordinary psychology professor who leads a double life as an undercover hitman for the New Orleans police. However, when he deviates from the rules to assist a desperate woman escaping an abusive relationship, he begins to embody one of his fake personas, developing feelings for her and teetering on the edge of a criminal transformation.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter before the world premiere, Richard Linklater, the indie film pioneer behind works like “Dazed and Confused,” “Boyhood,” and the “Before” trilogy, shared that it was Glen Powell, the film’s lead actor, who played a crucial role in getting the project off the ground. Powell, who had previously worked with Linklater on “Everybody Wants Some!!” and gained mainstream recognition with “Top Gun: Maverick,” contacted Linklater during the pandemic after reading the article.

“When I read the original article, I thought this material would be a great place for a dark comedy to take place,” Linklater remarked. “I had a few meetings about it over the years, but it just didn’t take off as a full story — until Glen Powell called me up during the pandemic and said, ‘Hey, I just read this great article about a hitman.’” The two then collaborated intensely during the pandemic to co-develop and co-write the screenplay.

Linklater also expressed his concerns about the current challenges facing independent filmmaking in the United States, likening it to something that has disappeared or succumbed to algorithms. He reflected on the differences in the filmmaking landscape compared to the 1990s when he began his career, acknowledging that today, certain projects would be difficult to bring to fruition. While recognizing the advantages of having been part of a vibrant filmmaking era, he remains hopeful for a brighter future in the industry.

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Ralph Calaway