Daily archives "June 19, 2012"

EIFF 2012: Killer Joe: ****

Director William Friedkin / 103mins

William Fredkin returns to the big screen with this deeply disturbing dark comedy, that is not only tense and funny but marks a return to form from one of Hollywoods’s greatest directors.

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A young drug dealer Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) is down on his luck, but things are go from bad to worse when he hires the unexpectedly charming hit man, Killer Joe (Matthew McConaughey ). He hires the charismatic killer to murder his own mother for her $50,000 life insurance policy. With barely a dollar to his name Chris agrees to offer his younger sister, Dottie (Juno Temple), as collateral in exchange for Joe’s services until he receives the insurance money.

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Based on playwright Tracey Letts’ original award winning theatrical production of the same name. Lett’s has also adapted the screenplay for the film as well. The piece is full of great dialogue and great setups which heighten the performances and the action, which will make the audience wonder and curious for how the story unravels. Where Lett’s script lets him down is in some of the characterisations of the minor characters. In particular the mobsters who are after Chris for his money only appear in one threatening scene and that is it. Anyone would think professional criminals would be desperate for their money, but not these guys apparently.

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Matthew McConaughey makes another great return to form with a performance, in which he appears to relish performing to the audience. Even though he was great in The Lincoln Lawyer he is even better in this film. This could be due to who is behind the camera this time. It is strange that he makes Joe who is initially a bent psychopathic cop, more a likeable loner who is desperate for his only part in the family. Hirsch also continues to give good performances making the rest of us forget that he ever did Speed Racer. There is a great comedy double act in Thomas Hayden Church & Gina Gershon who play the parents who have fallen out of love with each other a long time ago. But no matter how good these actors are, it is really Temple’s movie with her subtle naive performance .

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At times it can be hard to watch especially with the scenes of graphic violence, but Killer Joe is certainly unmissable and one of the films of the year. Although this film will definitely put anyone off eating chicken drumsticks for life. It will be interesting to see what Mr Friedkin will follow this twisted, but thoroughly entertaining work. 

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Reviewed by Paul Logan