Americans in Paris,film-makers who are returning to their inspirational source,like writers once did in the twenties. However, this is not the Paris of French film-makers,it is a foreshortened version, bodies decapitated by the screen cut. Campos is a product of Borderline,the talented film-maker collective behind last year's Sundance hit Martha Marcy May Marlene. Simon Killer is his follow-up to Afterschool.Technically advanced,strange angles,oppressive,close-up character study,moving pans,drenched in colour screens,abrupt musical intros,the unreliable narrator with sociopathic tendencies.Playing a creepy character as in Funny Games.
Simon (Brady Corbet) claims to be a graduate in neuroscience,concerned with how the brain processes peripheral vision,yet he doesn't know what `nystagmus' is,a condition of Marianne,one of his pick-ups.He is a compulsive liar.His emails to his ex are all in his voiceovers, even hers to him.He also towards the end tells the passport control officer he's studying French literature, like the last girl he met.In truth Simon is alone in Paris looking for sex,full of deadly cunning,cut adrift from empathy or values. Ripley comes to mind,but even he would never stoop so low as to get his prostitute girl friend to film and blackmail customers.
Chronicling the downward spiral of this inept protagonist,Campos subverts noir expectations,he is ably abetted by Mati Diop, touching as Victoria,who Simon moves in with and battens onto.He believes his lies until Mati peels away at them towards the end as he has gorged his confidence to launch into a new relationship as her spark dims. The sex is true to life.Simon treats women as objects to his own narcissim.There are languorous camera movements and surprising focal points in many scenes e.g.when he's picked her up in the bar and they've gone to a private area to talk as the camera pans away from them as if to widen the perspective.
Simon is portrayed as both pathetic and vulnerable,his mother's `fox'and violently unstable,emotionally immature,'I always saw myself as more of a lion'.Simon is set in his ways,hiding darker impulses.Colours are drab,cameras set at waist level,cutting off torsos.Beneath the frail exterior,manic behaviour is prone to burst forth.The tourist manipulator,adapting to very person he meets, trying to bring a new self into identity, but full of motiveless malignity,deriving his drive for manliness by wrenching emotion from others.Simon grows into a monster as foretold in the title.Corbet quits himself well of this American psycho in Paris.Enjoyable film with urgent soundtrack.