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Movie Reviews

Killer Joe





Released: 2011

Directed By: William Friedkin

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Thomas Haden Church, Juno Temple

Certificate: 18

Reviewed By: Darryl Griffiths

Sleaze.. Trailer parks.. Phallic use of deep fried chicken?

You almost have to suspend your disbelief, that this is the twisted work of a 76 year old. Anyone familiar with the back catalogue of director William Friedkin however would be aware, he is well renowned for having the ability to shock. In 1973, he unleashed ‘The Exorcist’ leaving the masses horrified. Now four decades on in 2012, he proves that such ‘talents’ haven’t diluted in any form with ‘Killer Joe’.

Adapted for the big screen via the original works of playwright Tracy Lett, the film’s peculiar premise revolves around a family based in Dallas, Texas. Adding several coats of paint to the term ‘dysfunctional’, drug dealing Chris (Emile Hirsch) has the warped idea of bumping off his mother imprinted on the mind.

Embroiled in trouble through owing money and being financially insecure himself, he sees her $50,000 life insurance policy as his salvation. As time ticks by, he soon convinces his gullable soul of a dad Ansel (Thomas Haden Church), the tart with no heart wife Sharla (Gina Gershon) and his simple minded sister Dottie (Juno Temple) to plough on with the wicked scheme.

Cue the enlisted help, in the form of the title character played by Matthew Mcconaughey. Adamant in the notion of confidentiality if proceedings falter, Joe’s going rates are certainly extortionate. In the family’s desperation, they offer a different form of down payment that throws their morals into severe questioning..

‘Killer Joe’ revels in its absurdities, that will leave many tastes being uncatered for and divisively interpreted as a quality/hindrance. Regardless of tone, Friedkin swiftly shifts between peppering the film with pitch black humour and unsettling you with the graphic violence/on-screen sexual antics with ease.

In the performance stakes, leading man Mcconaughey for years has been ridiculed for being the poster boy for sugar coated rom-coms. Here, his portrayal of ‘Killer Joe’ is a complete revelation which will certainly help the actor shed such a wholesome image. The low key voice, all black attire complete with the cowboy hat and that deathly glare, he anchors the film brilliantly. An equally impressive highlight is Juno Temple whose Dottie’s Jekyll and Hyde complex, shifting back and forth between the sweetness of her youth and the simmering powderkeg of her emotional angst is always compelling.

Consistently bonkers, ‘Killer Joe’ is a warped and unflinching piece of cinema that just might make you less critical of your own respective families!

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