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Manners of Dying

Also known as L'execution
In English (2004)

Parlington: "Please believe that I share in your grief. Yours truly, Harry Parlington. Director, Cantos, Correctional Institution."

Manners of Dying is about the last few hours in the life of a condemned convict, Kevin Barlow (Roy Dupuis), before his execution by lethal injection. It starts with his last meal, and continues through to his death -- eight times. Serge Houde plays Harry Parlington, the warden who supervises Kevin's execution. As he dictates one letter after another to Kevin's mother, we see several completely different and totally unreconcilable versions of Kevin's last hours.

Roy Dupuis is outstanding in this movie. Simply fabulous. The man can act. He goes to every possible emotional extreme in the different versions of Kevin's last hours; he fights violently, screams obscenities, pleads for his life, trembles with fear, laughs, cries, you get the picture. It's a dream part for an actor, no question about it.

But the movie itself lacks something. Manners is less of a cohesive story and more a string of dramatic vignettes. The story doesn't go anywhere. Despite the exceptional writing and acting, I never became emotionally engaged, and I should have, considering that I watched my favorite actor die eight times in a series of exceptional performances. As I watched version after version, I became frustrated with the film because I wanted to know what really happened to Kevin. Of course, I knew that wasn't the point. But I wanted it to be.

Four stars for Roy's performance, and two stars for the story. Averaged out, that makes three out of four stars,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

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