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on February 15, 2013
Killer Joe(released July/12)stars Matthew McConaughey as Det.Joe Cooper,Emile Hirsch as Chris Smith,Juno Temple as Dottie Smith,Gina Gershon as Sharla Smith,Thomas Haden Church as Ansel Smith,and Marc Macaulay as Digger Soames.Deftly directed by William"the Exorcist"Friedkin,this southern trailer park family story,involving murder with a twist,is an intriguing yet sometimes disturbing film.One minute it's sending up its redneck roots,and the next the action gets as intense as anything you've ever seen.
The story introduces us to the Smith family;father Ansel,his life,a slow learning curve,his overbearing son Chris,who treats his dad like a child,Chris's sister Dottie,who is the youngin' of the family,a virgin and quite withdrawn due to"family" issues,and Ansel's second wife Sharla,who is not a home body,to be sure.It's the old joke,if you look "dysfunctional" up in the dictionary,you would find their pictures there.Chris it seems has gotten himself into a little jam.He owes the local money man $10,000 and no one in the family has it to give.He is so desperate that he takes the advice of a friend by the name of Rex.Rex tells his buddy that there is a Dallas police detective by the name of Joe that does hits as a sideline.If Chris employs Joe to take down his father's ex wife,the recipient will receive $50,000...that being his young sister Dottie.And besides,Joe only charges $20,000.It sounds like a plan to Chris,who talks to his father about it.He actually gets him drunk,to be specific,at which time dad agrees to go along with it.
The rendezvous is made and in walks Joe.Joe explains with a calm demeanour and in simple terms,the rules of the contract.And oh yes,his fee is $25,000,not $20,000*gulp*.The two agree to Joe's terms but Chris tells him they have no fee,in advance.They want to wait until the cheque comes in,so to speak,in order to pay him.Joe is having none of this and starts to walk out,when he thinks of an idea.He has seen Chris's younger sister and has taken a shine to her.He will take her as a retainer in lieu of payment,until the cheque clears.
Chris has been weaving and dodging his creditor,Digger,all over town.His boys eventually catch up to him and Digger and he catch up on the local goings on,with Chris apologizing for not being able to make Diggers party the past month.Digger says he really likes Chris but his boys are going to have to do a number on him anyways.And if the money is not paid within two days,he will be officially six feet under.Chris comes home,bleeding profusely,to a real cozy homestead with Joe living temporarily with the Smith clan.Chris is getting antsy about his sister's relationship with Joe and he asks him to call off the hit.Joe shows Chris the trunk of his car,which reveals he has already done the deed.Chris is forced to drive with Joe to a remote location and put the body into another vehicle,which Joe promptly torches,to hide any evidence of foul play.
The next day Mr and Mrs Smith are at the lawyers office to talk about his ex's will.Chris and Dottie are waiting for them when they come out and the news isn't good at all.It seems the will isn't payable to Dottie but to Rex.Joe smells something rotten.With a little snooping and a little "pressure" put on Rex,Joe confronts Ansell and Sharla at the dinner table after their return from the funeral.Joe's eyes and words are all aimed at Sharla.He asks her about the insurance money.Then he goes onto some nude pictures he "obtained" of and from Rex;the case from which they came out from,we had seen earlier in Sharla's possession.There are some extremely tense moments as Joe gets quite violent with Sharla and all Ansell can do is watch,horrified.It seems Sharla has been having an on going affair with Rex for sometime and that the insurance money was for $100,000,not $50,0000! It was all a scam on Rex and Sharla's parts to get the money for themselves.
Chris meanwhile arrives home and things quickly turn sour as Chris tells Joe to leave his sister alone.Faster than you can say "chitlins",the two are wrestling on the floor.Unbeknownst to the rest,Dottie gets the gun Chris had pointed at Joe.Joe has announced he and Dottie are to be married,while Chris says that she is coming away with him.Dottie gets up to leave and both are after her attention,when she spins around and shoots Chris.She then shoots her father and points it at Joe.It is then she reveals she is pregnant.Joe's face beams as he asks Dottie to put the gun down.Just as her finger moves back to the trigger,the film cuts to black.
Will she shoot,or won't she?It was a great spot to leave it.Matthew McConaughey absolutely nailed his part as the cowboy hat wearing Dallas cop,with his ultra calm demeanour and affectations.Thomas Church also really nailed his character as the man-child/father of the Smith clan.Each and every other actor were totally into their parts and brought their characters individual idiosyncrasies to vivid life.There was nothing that wasn't believable about these people.The film had some extremely intense and sexually oriented moments though.Everything up to the confrontation scene near the end,I bought and had little problem with.The part where Joe is forcing Sharla to "swallow" a drumstick I thought was just over the top and unnecessary.That is my only criticism of the film.When it wasn't intense it could tug on the heart strings,especially when we learn of Dottie's background.Then at other times the film had a good sense of humour,such as the straight up funny moment when Sharla picks a thread off of Ansell's suit shoulder,and the arm falls down.This is American Gothic on steroids!
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 1:85:1 and is clear and crisp.There are no extras.
All in all a wonderful film about dysfunctionality in the south,set amongst a murder with a twist.McConaughey is fabulous in his part,and the rest of the cast rise to the occasion also,bringing their characters to life.Warning some scenes can be sexually graphic and are not for anyone under their late teens.Recommended.