It's not been a good year for Roberta Flack. No sooner has Hugh Grant butchered "Killing Me Softly" in "About a Boy" than the same song provides the title for this laughably awful romantic thriller. And flack is exactly what Chinese director Chen Kaige will receive for making this, his first English language feature.
Based on the novel by Nicci French (the nom de plume used by husband-and-wife writing team Nicci Gerrard and Sean French), "Killing Me Softly" tells of Alice (Graham), a young American in London whose life is changed forever when she meets dashing climber Adam Tallis (Fiennes). One moment their fingers are brushing as they both reach for the same pedestrian crossing button; the next they're ripping off each other's clothes for an afternoon of steamy rumpy-pumpy.
But once the pair are married Alice Tallis (doh!) realises she knows next to nothing about her new husband - apart from the fact he has a filthy temper and may be involved in the deaths of two ex-girlfriends. Add some anonymous notes, Adam's enigmatic sister (McElhone), and a mysteriously locked closet, and Alice starts to wonder if she'll be around to celebrate her first wedding anniversary.
With miscast leads, banal dialogue and an absurdly overblown climax, "Killing Me Softly" belongs firmly in the so-bad-it's-good camp. Fiennes is particularly lost here, though he does get to beat a tattooed thug to a pulp and torture a goldfish. A cult hit in the making.