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Thursday, November 9, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Television

Kiefer Sutherland's double life: Rockumentary captures soul-searching tour

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — If nothing else, watch the rockumentary "I Trust You To Kill Me" to see a drunken Kiefer Sutherland tackle a Christmas tree.

It's the film's defining moment, capturing the tipsy fun — and frustration — of the "24" actor's tour through Europe last winter with his indie music label's first signee, Rocco DeLuca and the Burden.

Airing Saturday on VH1 and out on DVD in January, the movie revolves around twin themes of pain and fame. DeLuca's music, and Sutherland's struggle with his own celebrity and emotions, are equally haunting.

The tackle in question comes after the band's underwhelming performance to an underwhelmed crowd at the Borderline club in London. Band members and Sutherland, acting as their road manager, are drinking away their pain when something snaps in Kiefer's mind.

His explanation for the bizarre behavior: He's craved attention ever since he was young. Duh! What actor hasn't?

But Sutherland, treating the camera as a therapist at times, is captivatingly introspective. He recalls repeatedly banging his head into walls in order to watch his famous, often-absent father, Donald Sutherland, laugh in response.

Later, Sutherland makes another strange move — getting "I Trust You To Kill Me," also the name of the band's CD, tattooed on his right forearm in Icelandic runes. He tells the camera, in effect, that the tattoo is part of him growing away from toppling trees or banging heads, finally becoming his own man at age 39.

On TV

"I Trust You To Kill Me," 9 p.m. Saturday on VH1.

"The times that I've made terrible mistakes as an actor have been when I've tried to do something that I thought someone else would like and it didn't come from my heart," he says, grimacing as a needle pricks his skin.

Sutherland easily steals the show from DeLuca, an L.A.-based rocker in his late 20s, and the putative subject of the film. Quiet and a bit opaque, DeLuca sports a scraggly beard and tells us he was drawn to the Appalachian music that inspires his playing partly because "the melodies were simple and pure, and the lyrics were borderline evil."

The film hints that his depressing, guitar-heavy rock tunes stem from an upbringing as tormented as Sutherland's — his dad was gone, touring with Bo Diddley, and he didn't know his mom until a few years ago.

The gloom-tinged dobro-playing is searing, particularly in a New Year's performance in the basement of a Berlin club.

"I Trust You To Kill Me" drags a bit in the middle — it's certainly no edge-of-your-seat "24" episode. But seeing Sutherland sell himself (he packs a Dublin club by hawking tickets in crowded bars) while struggling with his own identity is easily as fascinating as Jack Bauer capturing another terrorist.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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