David Fincher made an appearance in Venice on Sunday to promote his new Michael Fassbender-led Netflix film “The Killer.” While his press conference largely focused on praising his collaborators and expressing his excitement for his new crime thriller, he also briefly addressed the ongoing Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Fincher expressed hope that the two guilds could reach mutually beneficial deals with the AMPTP because he can “see both sides” of the dispute.
His comments didn’t impress Boots Riley. The “I’m a Virgo” director took to Twitter to criticize Fincher’s answer about the strikes — and cited a comment about Fassbender’s character as evidence that Fincher’s films propogate a “distorted worldview.”
Riley’s representatives did not immediately respond to IndieWire’s request for comment.
In the full context of the press conference, Fincher’s comment about people in line at Home Depot was clearly about his approach to storytelling, not politics. The filmmaker has spent much of his career crafting fascinating cinematic villains who are murderers, and was explaining how “The Killer” aligned with his creative approach. Fincher was asked about the extent to which he wanted audiences to sympathize with Fassbender’s assassin character. He explained that he felt the film would work better if the character was instead portrayed as completely mundane.
“As you can imagine, sympathy was the last thing on my mind, as it relates to this character. We wanted somebody who didn’t need to be frightening, (he’s) the mundanity of evil,” Fincher said. “My hope is that someone will see this film and get very nervous about the person behind them in line at Home Depot.”
Fincher also explained that establishing a sense of mundanity — which prompted IndieWire’s Ryan Lattanzio to describe the film as “the ‘Jeanne Dielman’ of assassin movies” in his review — was key to setting up the character’s arc.
“The schism between his mantra, the words that he lives by, and his behavior that is forced to adjust, was ultimately where the movie exists, where the character exists,” he said. “As his voiceover is assured, and as his voiceover is telling us exactly what it is he thinks he’s going to do, the moment that disappears, the style of the cinematography changes, the style of the music changes. We tried to use the frantic nature, maybe handheld, the way that we staged the action, to really show unraveling.”