The tone of Death Of A Fool is very unique, but the film admirably sticks to it. Not quite zany, but not exactly dryly sardonic either, it exists somewhere in-between. While that might sound like a strange area to occupy, the film wholly commits itself to it. And quite frankly, despite the overstuffed plot, the drama, and the comedy land well. When Beatrice gets her hands stuck on the fruit, and she and Pablo have to figure out to remove them, it is hilarious. When Pablo checks in with his grandfather regarding his health, it feels genuine and heartfelt.
But, the film never focuses on one thing long enough for any of it to make sense. While due to the acting and directing, the emotional beats do land, the story is much more interested in rushing from one moment to the next. This means that right after a sweet moment, something unsettling (usually involving Dee) or absurd happens. So, those sequences which may feel real, the audience is laughing two seconds later. So while these elements may be effective as they play out, they don’t stick with the audience. Which means the film never leaves a long-lasting impression.
“…never focuses on one thing long enough for any of it to make sense.”
The film opens with Herman and Pablo hearing out a potential client. In an amusing turn of events, they turn it down. But, they turn it down. And before the audience ever has the chance to understand what they do properly (I still haven’t the foggiest how their afterlife investigations work), we are at the hospital. Almost immediately after learning that grandpa has cancer, Dee hires them to find the immortality fruit. And before you know it, and before you can really figure out people’s names and relations (I thought Beatrice was Pablo’s sister for her first few scenes), they are on the road to the cult compound.
If you told me that Death Of A Fool is a follow-up to a beloved TV series, I would not be surprised. It plays out exactly as if you should already be familiar with these characters and their world. But, best I can tell, it is not. It is just that the filmmakers don’t give the movie any breathing room. It is all jam-packed with reveal or turn or new plot point after another that it winds up being bloody well exhausting.
Death Of A Fool is highly original, perfectly acted, and strikes a unique tone all its own. But, the plot never stops piling things on. This means that nothing has time to stick or make sense in context. While not a waste of time, as it is well-produced, the movie is not very memorable because no scene lasts long enough to leave an impression.
"…plays out exactly as if you should already be familiar with these characters..."