With their debut feature, enigmatic British writer-director team Jones join the likes of McG, Q and – lest we forget – Prince in the not-so-illustrious ranks of filmmakers who only need one name. In this case it’s even more impressive, because not only do we not know their name(s), we don’t even know what they look like. It’s hard, keeping up with the Joneses.
And it’s frustrating, watching their film. ‘Everyone’s Going to Die’ has moments of comic brilliance: a fistful of crafty one-liners, a clutch of knowing asides and one fist-bitingly funny and unpleasant scene in which an estranged suburban family enact a teenage girl’s overwrought play about the recent death of her father. Sadly, these moments are scattered thinly through a meandering, hipsterish romance that echoes ‘Lost in Translation’ and ‘In Search of a Midnight Kiss’ without ever figuring out what made those movies work.
Our couple are Madeleine (Nora Tschirner), a dreamy German immigrant awaiting her impending marriage like a condemned woman awaits the noose, and Ray (Rob Knighton), one of those smart-suited, self-aware British gangster types that only exist in movies. They meet, part, drift around, meet again, drift again… and so it goes, to the predictable climax. ‘Everyone’s Going to Die’ is a good-looking, thoughtful film. But if only Jones, whoever they are, had shaken off their pretensions and made an outright comedy, it might’ve been a very good one, too.