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Richard Linklater Hands Out High Fives as ‘Hit Man’ Gets 5-Minute Standing Ovation at Venice

Richard Linklater’s “Hit Man” received a spirited five-minute standing ovation on Tuesday night, as the director handed out high fives.

The action comedy, which stars Glen Powell, received cheers from the beginning, with the crowd clapping throughout the film during various scenes.

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During the standing ovation, Linklater looked overwhelmed by the applause, mouthing “thank you so much” and holding his hand to his heart. After the applause lasted several minutes, Linklater exchanged high fives with those near him, including his partner Christina Harrison and their daughter.

Linklater spoke at the film’s Venice press conference about working so closely with Powell on “Hit Man,” saying, “We never quit working on this movie. We worked all weekend, we worked all night. We were shooting in New Orleans and we never went out. I think we went out to eat once.”

“Hit Man” received strong reviews out of Venice, with Variety film critic Owen Gleiberman calling it “a true-life screwball underworld romantic philosophical thriller comedy noir about the world’s unlikeliest undercover agent.” He added: “Powell has an offbeat leading-man vibe; he looks like Guy Pearce flecked with Ryan Gosling, with a slightly goofy grin that radiates the purest sincerity.”

Linklater and Powell co-wrote the “Hit Man” screenplay based on Skip Hollandsworth’s Texas Monthly article of the same name. According to its official logline, the film follows an undercover police officer in Houston who poses as a hitman in order to arrest those trying to hire him and save a woman in need. Besides Powell, “Hit Man” also stars Adria Arjona, Austin Amelio, Retta, Molly Bernard and Mike Markoff.

Linklater, known for helming “Dazed and Confused,” the “Before” trilogy and “School of Rock,” has previously been to Venice with his 2001 animated film “Waking Life.” Powell and Linklater are frequent collaborators, with Powell having starred in “Fast Food Nation” (2006), “Everybody Wants Some!!!” (2016) and his most recent film, “Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood” (2022).

Powell is coming off a breakout year after his role as Lieutenant Jake “Hangman” Seresin in “Top Gun: Maverick,” and he’s also starring in the buzzy upcoming rom-com “Anyone but You” alongside Sydney Sweeney. “Hit Man” marks Powell’s first feature film writing credit.

After its Venice premiere, “Hit Man” will screen at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 11.

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