Captured by US Special Forces in Afghanistan, Mohammed is transported to a secret military black site. When the army convoy plummets off a steep hill, Mohammed finds himself free and on the run behind enemy lines. A hostile, snowblanketed forest gradually turns out to be an Eastern European wilderness. Relentlessly pursued by his captors, Mohammed constantly confronts the need to kill in order to survive. Legendary filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski, who – let’s be chauvinistic for once – won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for the Belgian shot The Departure ( 1967 ), is far from self-indulgent when it comes to his work. But with Essential Killing, he is in no doubt : it’s his best film ! Intentionally vague on the main character ( a civilian caught in the wrong place at the wrong moment or a fierce Taliban fighter ? ), Skolimowski’s main point is more about a struggle of a man against the wilderness than a political metaphor. From this perspective, he has also skipped superfluous dialogue and the names of the protagonists, apart from the two main characters ( Vincent Gallo and Emmanuelle Seigner – who happens to be the wife of his fellow countryman Roman Polanski ! ). At the 2010 Venice Film Festival, Essential Killing won the best actor award for Vincent Gallo and the Special Jury Prize for Skolimowski.

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