Feature - USA / UK Première
William Friedkin / USA / 2011 / 103 min
Set in the sort of half-dead North Texas town that country and western songs warn you about, William Friedkin’s Killer Joe is a stylish, modern noir featuring an effective blending of a low-rent Tennessee Williams drama with Elmore Leonard‘s brooding violence and, to the surprise of many, features a fine performance from Matthew McConaughey.
There’s a not unfamiliar noir plotline here with desperate for cash Chris (Emile Hirsch) and his dumb as a bag of hammers dad – a brilliant turn from Thomas Haden Church, hiring the eponymous Joe to kill his mother for her life insurance. But as with all noir, it’s not the plot, it’s the characters that drive this film and, with the additional element of a creepy sexuality, Killer Joe has a threeway conflict between the amoral, the immoral and the innocent which gives it a queasy power. The surprise of McConaughey’s genuinely worthy performance is another asset to this film, with the blankness that makes him a dead weight in romantic comedies a veritable plus point here with his hollow stare like calm waters before a storm. Killer Joe is a highly enjoyable, disturbing, but ultimately good rather than great slice of Southern fried Friedkin. Not quite a return to his 70s form, but gripping enough to be worth the trip to the multiplex.
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