DIR: William Friedkin • WRI: Tracy Letts • PRO: Nicolas Chartier, Scott Einbinder • DOP: Caleb Deschanel • ED: Darrin Navarro • DES: Franco-Giacomo Carbone • Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple
Director William Friedkin delivered two of the best movies of the 70s, if not of all time, with The French Connection and The Exorcist. Since then he’s never hit the same dizzy heights, with his most recent big outing being the 2003 flop The Hunted. Now, after almost a decade of semi-retirement, he’s returned guns-blazing with a shocking and twisted adaption of Tracy Lett’s award-winning play.
Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) has found himself in trouble with some local drug dealers/debt collectors, and so sets up a plan with his father (Thomas Haden Church) and step-mother (Gina Gershon) to off his birth mother, and cash in on her life insurance. For this, they hire Joe (Matthew McConaughey), a local policeman/hitman, but since they don’t have the money to pay him up front, Joe takes Chris’s innocent little sister Dottie (Juno Temple) as a retainer until the deed is done.
Set in a sweltering Texas, Friedkin shoots the southern state as if it was post-apocalyptic, all tattered trailer parks, shut down pool halls and abandoned amusement parks. All of the actors bring their A-Game (except for sore thumb Hirsch), and every scene, every sentence and every silence is filled with the threat of sex or violence, and usually both at once. This movie is absolutely not for everybody, with both the sex and the violence taken up to levels not usually seen in a mainstream movie. But despite all this heaviness, Killer Joe is best described as a very, VERY dark comedy, and there is a lot of subversive glee to be had watching these disgusting people getting their comeuppance.
A fantastic return to form for Friedkin, and also a warning shot from McConaughey, who between his brilliant turn in this, and upcoming titles like the Palme d’Or nominated Mud and The Paperboy, as well as Magic Mike, is marking 2012 as HIS year.
Rated 18 (see IFCO website for details)
Killer Joe is released on 29th June 2012