Monday, 13 August 2012

Killer Joe

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Country of origin:USA
Director:William Friedkin
Genre:Dark crime drama
Starring:Matthew McConaughey, Juno Temple, Emile Hirsch,      Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon
IMDB link:
Tagline:A totally twisted deep-fried Texas redneck trailer park murder story.
Favourite line:"I heard y'all talking about killing Momma.  I think it's a good idea."

Director William Friedkin, still best known for The Exorcist some thirty nine years after the event, here treads troubling waters with masterful conviction.

The plot:
Chris Smith is in a world of trouble.
Living on a trailer park with his father, stepmother and sister, Dottie, Chris is seriously in debt to local gangster Digger Soames. With no way to repay the money owed, Chris devises a plan: use local hit-man Joe to kill his real mother, whose life insurance will pay $50,000 to Dottie.
$25,000 to Killer Joe for services rendered.
$5,000 to Digger.
$20,000 left to divvy up. Initially sceptical, Killer Joe agrees, but he demands a retainer, until the money shows up: the sexual services of Dottie.
Now, living in the trailer with the family, Joe begins to educate Dottie in the ways of the flesh.
Then Chris discovers that his plan has failed, and no money will be forthcoming.
And Killer Joe wants his cash.

This is edgy stuff.
Dark and intense, with an undercurrent of the blackest, bleakest comedy, this challenges to the point of revulsion.
With nothing to truly compare it to, the nearest touchstone is to think of it as an American version of the kind of thing Shane Meadows makes. Like This Is England, here we have a glimpse at the underbelly of society, the ones born with nothing, likely to achieve nothing, just scraping through life. With the hardship comes a sense of desperation, and a belief that everything will go wrong at some point.
Darkly comic, too, just like Meadows’ material, this has a couple of laugh out loud moments – one involving the sleeve of a suit that comes straight from the Benny Hill school of comedy – but, all the time, you know it’s all going to end badly.
Building to a climax of incredible power and intensity, at times during the final thirty minutes you can scarcely believe what you are watching, much less that you are watching it at a multiplex – how this got a general release is mystifying – and features sexual debasement and misogynistic humiliation of a kind that you are unlikely to have seen before.
The much maligned (justifiably given the atrocious quality of most of his movies) Matthew McConaughey as Joe is a fucking revelation, as is Juno Temple as Dottie and, in the two scenes they share alone, the chemistry just burns your retinas. They are exceptional. The fact that neither were nominated for this year’s Oscars is nothing short of a disgrace.
Extreme art house movie-making has seldom been better than this, and it only loses a mark for a flabby second act that almost derails the whole thing, before the savage third act yanks it right back. And, a point to note, director Friedkin is seventy seven years old. To have even a tenth of his passion and intensity at fifty would be remarkable. The man’s a bloody marvel.
Breathtakingly good but, be warned, it is full on stuff.

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