Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
Directed by: William Friedkin
Running time: 103 min.
Release date: July 27, 2012
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Thriller, Crime and Adaptation
Distributor: LD Entertaimnment
MPAA Rating: NC-17
From Academy Award winning director William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection) and Pulitzer Prize Award winning writer Tracie Letts (stageplay and screenplay) is a remarkable, totally twisted deep-fried Texas Redneck trailer park story. Based on the dark comedy play of the same title by Tracie Letts, it also premiered as a stage production in 1998.
Under the Motion Pictures Association of America film rating system, Killer Joe is given a NC-17 rating (NC-17 replaced the "X" in 1990). In its initial years of use, few movies with the NC-17 rating were profitable, illustrating the commercial viability of such a MPAA Rating. Normally these types of films are not allowed wide advertisement and given the refusal of major cinema chains. Many such films will never be accessible to people who live in markets that do not have art house theaters. However, the effect of this film will show the possibility that this will fit in the mainstream theater attractions, no matter the graphic aberrant involvement of violence, sexuality, and scenes of brutality.
The elusive synopsis of the story is that when 22 year old Chris (Emile Hirsch), who failed as a drug dealer, finds himself in debt to a drug lord Digger Soames (Marc Macaulay). Chris, along with his low mentality welder father Ansel (Thomas Haden Church), and Ansel's dubious, highly sexual and attractive middle-age girlfriend Sharla (Gina Gershon) decide to hire a hit man to dispatch his own alcoholic mother, whose $50,000 life insurance policy benefits his younger imaginative unspoiled sister Dottie (Juno Temple). Chris recruits Dallas Police Detective Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a sharp dressing, creepy, crazy cop who moonlights as a contract killer "Killer Joe".
Matthew McConaughey plays an icy cold intelligent and competent "Killer Joe". Director William Friedkin keeps the focus of this bizarre plot on Matthew McConaughey, although the surrounding characters are very much involved in the development in this off-beat thriller. The sleazy trailer park atmosphere enhances the story when Chris can't pay Joe's fee up front. So Joe sets his sights on the virginal sweet teenage Dottie as collateral for his job. As the plot thickens, the contract killer and hostage Dottie develop an unusual sexual bond. Like from a modern day, twisted fairy tale, "Killer Joe" Cooper becomes the prince to partly delusional Dottie's "Cinderella".
The foul-mouth despicable characters are brilliant; Killer Joe played by Matthew McConaughey is a suave and charming ruthless killer; Chris Smith played by Emile Hirsch is a low-life hustler who never breaks even but has a morally and brotherly love for his sister; Thomas Haden Church as Ansel is a dim-witted, clueless father who goes along with anything his live-in girl friend Sharla wants; Gina Gerson as Sharla is a sensual, no-nonsense double-crossing step-mom; and Juno Temple as Dottie Smith is the beautiful young flower just blooming with innocence among the trailer-trash brush.
I was thoroughly taken in on how love, lust, loyalty, treachery, innocence, profanity, greed and revenge held together so well in this film. The blasphemous humor within this wickedly dysfunctional family was only outdone by the crisp pacing and terrific performances. This controversial and engaging movie becomes even more challenging when the outcome of the simple plan of killing for money turns into a stimulating finale of double-cross and triple-cross. The strange sequences will leave the audience in a state of amazement as the emphasis of the narrative borders cruelty and comedy. Director William Friedkin must be congratulated for pushing his actors beyond their realm and bringing out brilliance.
Killer Joe left me with a good feeling of bewilderment and satisfaction!
FILM RATING (B+)