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ARTS & CULTUREFILM REVIEW
More Than Killing Time with " Killing Eve "
Park Min Ha  |  parkminha@korea.ac.kr
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승인 2019.10.08  17:06:11
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“Killing Eve” follows the curiously intertwined paths of the assassin with the codename Villanelle and a British secret intelligence service (MI6) agent, Eve Polastri. Jodie Comer, a new face in the television industry, plays Villanelle, while Sandra Oh marks her 30-year acting career with her audacious new role as Eve. “Killing Eve” has received a critics-based rating of 94 percent on the infamous movie review website Rotten Tomatoes , and amazingly positive critiques on a similar website, Metacritic. Movie critic Allison Keene writes on Metacritic that this “gloriously wicked comedy” makes “one of the year’s most delightful and captivating series.”

   
▲ Photo from Season Two of Killing Eve. PROVIDED BY HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
Villanelle is a young assassin of Russian roots who commits high-profile murders across nations. After failing to accomplish her duties as a security officer, Eve gets recruited again by Carloyn Martins, the legendary Head of the Russia Section of MI6, for an undercover assignment to catch Villanelle and her connections. Composed of eight episodes each, seasons one and two of “Killing Eve” handles possibly the most difficult themes in film and television—love and death—under a terrifying game of hideand-seek between the female leads. The two eventually obsess over each other as they play their mind games and tighten their relationship throughout the disturbingly entertaining series.

Strong Female Characters to Enchant Viewers 
An important feature of “Killing Eve” is that the majority of its leading characters are female. One would imagine that such an observation should be inessential to point out now in the twenty first century, but it is regrettably still a popular procedure when discussing television productions. “Killing Eve” dramatically succeeds in not only excluding the fragile stereotypes of women, but also in twisting such submissive roles into the show’s bitter touch of humor. Eve can be seen impatiently pretending to seduce male figures to obtain important data for her investigation, while Villanelle similarly entices her victims before her kill. 

The astounding acting of the female cast is another quality of the show that one cannot miss. The two main actresses, along with Fiona Shaw in the role of Carolyn Martins, received eminent awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Film Awards and the Golden Globe Awards. Such achievements act as proof towards the significance of the female roles in the series, while also highlighting the actresses’ capabilities to digest the untraditional roles as psychopathic killers and tenacious secret agents.

Winds Upon Waves of Discomfort 
Every show has its own indescribable ambience. For “Killing Eve,” its eeriness is definitely a part of it, but a closer look reveals that the sudden shifts in the dynamics of the storyline contribute more to the signature feeling of discomfort. In other words, each character is unpredictable in their behaviors. This feature completely shatters the buildup of tension for the viewers startling viewers before just another unexpected line. The fact that these come without warning but still do not act as cliché plot twists make the show become more unique and exciting.

At other times, the growing suspense betrays viewers with an unexpected joke— dry, satirical British humor. As the trailer reveals, Villanelle warns Eve, “Never tell a psychopath they are a psychopath. It upsets them.” But after a pressuring pause, she goes on to ask Eve an important question about whether her shirt is attached to her sweater. As depicted, viewers may find themselves riding along on the show’s unique, recurring waves of discomfort, somehow wanting to watch more to find out what happens next.

Is Villanelle the Villain? 
Villanelle is the killer, and therefore seemingly the antagonist of the television series, but it is hard to a c c o rd i n g l y n a m e E v e a s t h e protagonist. Eve’s striking personality centers around her more-thannecessary obsession with assassins, her secret job, and of course, Villanelle. Eve nearly gets drunk on the sweet smell of a perfume that a highly dangerous assassin—Villanelle—sent her, after admiring her figure in the suspicious dress that came with it. This behavior does not seem normal, to say the least, and hence portrays Eve as having a similarly villainous behavior as her target. The title of the show, “Killing Eve,” thus can represent another underlying meaning of Eve killing her sanity through her encounter with Villanelle. 
   
▲ Villanelle and Eve. PROVIDED BY DIGITAL SPY

The writer of  the series, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, also puts a great amount of detail into Villanelle’s scarred personal history. Each succeeding episode unveils a more humane side of the Russian killer, poeticizing her role as if to personify the meaning of villanelle—a nineteen-line poem with two rhymes throughout. Viewers drift back and forth between seeing Villanelle as a villain and as a woman of “delicate features and catlike eyes,” as Eve describes. This sensation of rooting for the enemy is hard to rationalize, but viewers continuously do so while watching “Killing Eve” to find the true value that such duality holds. 

With a nerve-racking but highly compelling plot, ultimate casting, and a sensational mix of the above, “Killing Eve” well deserves the praise it is continuously receiving from its global fans and critics. The satisfying two seasons of “Killing Eve” leaves bigger hope for the next season to bring more mystery and empowerment to the screen.  
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