After several failed attempts to commit suicide, young aspiring writer William (Aneurin Barnard) hires an assassin (Tom Wilkinson) to kill him within the week. It isn’t long after he signs the contract however that he starts finding purpose and joy in his life again, and ends up in a race against death to avoid the fate he signed himself up for.
Bringing suicide into a comedy is a challenging feat to tackle appropriately, and whilst the concept of this film was interesting and different and the overarching message one of hope, the treatment of suicide failed to delve into the seriousness of the issue. In summary, Dead in a Week (Or Your Money Back) treats a dark subject far too lightly.
The performances in this film really carry it through, and Barnard and Wilkinson have great chemistry together, but I personally found the darkness of the subject matter greatly outweighed any comedy. Some of the jokes fall flat when you remember how serious an issue William is grappling with as being asked to laugh at the concept of ‘ordered suicide’ feels completely uncomfortable. Mental health was completely glossed over, and the treatment of suicidal feelings as a joke rather than an emergency didn’t sit right.
Dead in a Week does present an underlying sense of hope, and the message that there is always more to live for, and people to live for in your future, is a positive one. There is a warmth to the story as William finds his purpose again, and it is an ode to how much of a difference friendship and empathy can make to people who are struggling, but picking jokes out of suicide really didn’t work for me.
Dead in a Week (Or Your Money Back) is available on Digital Download now.
- In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email email@example.com.
- In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.
- In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.