Killer Joe – Review
July 2, 2012 7 Comments
Review by FilmFellaLozz – 8/10
Matthew McConaughey, a baddie? Surely not. If you’ve never seen him in anything other than romantic comedies; well, this guy can act. Sticking with that cocky confidence and charm that has served him so well, and lined his pockets for far too long, he’s taken that and given his whole persona a sinister tinge of madness. It just takes a director to see something in someone, to bring it to life and allow an actor to execute the performance of their career. A 77-year old William Friedkin obviously saw the dark side in McConaughey and has focused his efforts at bringing the titular character, Killer Joe, to cinematic life.
Based upon Tracey Letts’ Pulitzer Prize winning play, the movie follows the very same narrative; Southern white-trash, trailer park family dysfunction at it’s most dysfunctional. Chris (Emile Hirsch) is in debt to the local druglord, kingpin, general bad guy. In order to get himself off the list of people who find themselves buried in shallow graves on the outskirts of town, he sets a plan in motion.
The Plan: to have his mother murdered to claim the insurance money, simple. Enter Joe; a detective who has an altogether morally dubious sideline job as a killer. And he’s not cheap. Soon the whole family is involved; the dumbass ex-husband/dad (Thomas Haden Church), the stepmother (the go-to white-trash actress, Gina Gershon [well, it’s her or Juliette Lewis]), and the innocent little sister, Dottie. Of course, plans are always best laid. And these ones go awry.
I remember when I first saw The Exorcist and it kinda felt like I shouldn’t be watching it. Like it was wrong. Wrong to be laughing at the grotesque before my eyes. Well, this is exactly what friedkin has done again with Killer Joe. It was like watching the taboo, feeling a bit dirty, but enjoying it and actually finding it entertaining throughout, laughing out loud on numerous occasions. But I did want a wash as soon as I could afterwards. Themes of an ominous and disturbing nature mixed up with humorously dark and twisted overtones are obviously the kinda thing that William Friedkin does best.
The main cast of five excels providing their characters with a natural stupidity and rawness. Hirsch is, once again, proving himself as a very talented actor, up there with the new breed including Ryan Gosling and Joseph Gordon Levitt. Church’s patchy bearded idiot is hilarious, but he gives so much to a character that could’ve easily been throwaway. Gina Gershon’s despicable stepmother is just nasty, but she’s made me think; gees, where the hell has this woman been? A very willing and able actress, prepared to go the extra mile for her character (and director).
It’s Juno Temple as Dottie who’s the most memorable of all though. A timid and naïve young woman with a lot more going on behind her eyes, than she lets on. She’s definitely an actress I’ll be watching out for in the future. The character needed a brave talent to take on the role; and she outclasses any actress of her age, around at the moment.
Due to Killer Joe getting an NC-17 rating in the U.S., its release has been extremely limited. Many theatres won’t touch movies branded with this rating with a barge pole; this, of course, being one step away from x-rated. This isn’t down to the theme or the copious amounts of nudity. It’s down to one scene involving a K-Fried-C chicken drumstick. It’s hilariously lurid and shocking and ridiculous, but only adds to what is a strange movie that’s packed with interesting dialogue and realistically frightening characters.
Killer Joe is a delightfully grubby little movie that allows its actors to shine. The more time that’s passed, the more I like it. Not because I’m messed in the head, but because it’s a damn good movie. And I urge all movie lovers to go check it out. If only to forget McConaughey of old; and watch him execute a killer character with horrid menace. It’s nasty and messy; a hideous movie throughout, but always with charm and a wink in it’s eye.