Killing Zoe (1993)


Killing Zoe (1993)

Zed has only just arrived in the beautiful Paris and already he's up to no good. Having just slept with a call girl, he spends a night on the town with his dangerous friends. They all decide to rob a bank the following day. There's only one problem: Zed's call-girl, Zoe, just happens to work at the bank which is to be robbed!
IMDb  6.5 /10
Director Roger Avary
Writer Roger Avary
Release Date1994-04-30
Runtime1h 36mins
GenreCrime, Thriller
Content RatingR (Restricted)
Awards2 wins & 1 nomination.
CompanyDavis-Films, Live Entertainment, PFG Entertainment
CountryFrance, USA
LanguageEnglish, French
Martin Raymond
Martin Raymond
Cab Driver
Eric Pascal Chaltiel
Eric Pascal Chaltiel
Tai Thai
Tai Thai
Elise Renee
Elise Renee
Patchoo (as Elise Renée)
Concierge (as Ron Jeremy Hyatt)
Gian-Carlo Scandiuzzi
Gian-Carlo Scandiuzzi
Bank Manager (as Gian Carlo Scandiuzzi)
Gérard Bonn
Gérard Bonn
Assistant Bank Manager (as Gerard Bonn)

Killing Zoe

Killing Zoe is a 1994 American-French crime film written and directed by Roger Avary and starring Eric Stoltz, Jean-Hugues Anglade and Julie Delpy. The story details a safe cracker named Zed who returns to France to aid an old friend in performing a doomed bank heist. Killing Zoe is regarded as a respected "cult" favorite and has been labeled by Roger Ebert as "Generation X's first bank caper movie."


Professional safe-cracker Zed comes to Paris to help a childhood friend, Eric, with a bank heist. In the cab on the way to his hotel room, the cabbie obtains a prostitute for him. He arrives at his hotel room and is soon greeted by the prostitute, Zoe, who also confides that she is studying art, and has a "very boring" day job. After having sex, they talk with each other amiably, then fall asleep. Their reverie is soon interrupted when Eric barges in and brusquely sends Zoe out of the room, so the two men can get on with their business.

Eric takes Zed back to his residence where Zed meets Eric's friends. Eric explains his plans: the following day is Bastille Day and virtually everything is closed except for the bank they plan to rob, which is a holding bank and is open on holidays. Zed forgoes his rest time to spend the night partying with Eric and his friends among some of the less reputable people of Paris in a cavernous jazz club, which Eric refers to as 'the Real Paris'. During the binging, Eric confides to Zed that he has AIDS, which he contracted through IV drug use.

The next day, Zed is awakened by Eric as they prepare to enter the bank. The team dons carnival masks to hide their faces before bursting into the bank. They quickly kill those who do not cooperate as they escort Zed (who has not witnessed the killings) to the safe so he can get to work. Their plans soon start to disintegrate as the police show up and they're faced with the possibility of going to jail for life or having to shoot their way out. Eric throws an explosive into a vault and enters it (mortally wounding a guard in the process – Zed himself shoots the guard as an act of mercy), finding a large supply of gold bars — but the thieves can't leave the bank alive with their fortune. Tensions become even higher when Zed recognizes Zoe (who coincidentally works at the bank) and attempts to protect her, to the fury of Eric, who slashes Zed's cheek with a knife.

A gunfight between the police, Eric, and the rest of the gang begins—with Zed caught 'innocently' in the middle. Eric's men are killed by the police as they rush the bank, and Zed and Eric begin to fight each other. The police shoot Eric to death. He falls on Zed, splattering great amounts of blood on him in the process (possibly exposing Zed to his HIV-infected blood). Injured, Zed is led away quickly by Zoe, who covers for him, stating he is a bank customer. They drive away in her car, where Zoe promises Zed that when he gets well she'll show him the 'real' Paris.

While some have speculated the title of the film derives from the assumption that Zed contracted HIV from Eric during the bank shooting and will pass it on to Zoe, Roger Avary has stated, "Zoe means 'life' in Greek, so the title of the movie can be interpreted as 'Killing Life.' "


  • Eric Stoltz as Zed
  • Jean-Hugues Anglade as Eric
  • Julie Delpy as Zoe
  • Gary Kemp as Oliver
  • Kario Salem as Jean
  • Tai Thai as François
  • Bruce Ramsay as Ricardo
  • Salvator Xuereb as Claude
  • Cecilia Peck as Martina
  • Ron Jeremy Hyatt as Bank concierge
  • David Richard Thompson as Burnt vault guard
  • Djimon Hounsou as Voice of Moïse


Killing Zoe was director Roger Avary's feature directorial debut. When scouting filming locations for Reservoir Dogs, the crew found a bank. Producer Lawrence Bender phoned a writer he knew, Avary, and asked if he had any screenplays that took place in a bank. Avary quickly wrote the script for Killing Zoe in a week or two. Avary stated he wanted to make "an art-house film for both the coffeehouse crowd and the exploitation crowd."

Set in Paris, the film was shot almost entirely in Los Angeles, California. Only the opening and end credit roll and some small car driving clips were filmed in France. In a DVD interview, Avary explains how he wanted to make a film about how nihilistic he felt his generation was and said that watching Stoltz in the film, was like seeing his evil twin come into creation. He wrote the script specifically for Stoltz; he and Stoltz admitted they had a fantasy to rob a bank (though Stoltz qualified this with 'and not go to jail'!) and making this film was as close as they would get. Avary stated that, as a first time director, it was a dream to work with actors as talented as Jean-Hugues Anglade, Eric Stoltz and Julie Delpy. Killing Zoe is notable as the first feature film to use the new Otto Nemenz Swing & Tilt lenses, which were used during the heroin sequences for perspective distortion instead of their original purpose of perspective correction.


The film won the Grand Prize award at the 5th Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival held in February 1994. Jury members that year included Roger Vadim, Dario Argento, and Dennis Hopper. The film currently holds a 36% approval rating on the website Rotten Tomatoes based on 28 reviews, with a weighted average of 5.14/10.