I’m putting out a disclaimer right now that I am going to curse like a fucking sailor in this blog. Killer Joe Director Will Friedkin (The Exorcist and The French Connection) nailed the steamy southern gothic stylization. Would you expect anything else? Adapted from Tracy Letts’s stage play, Killer Joe explores the greed, deceit and voracity of a lower-than-lower class.
The cast of this movie is just incredible. With his track record of bullshit sub-par romantic-comedies I was not expecting Matthew McConaughey to deliver as Joe Cooper (Killer Joe); he nailed it. Joe Cooper is a police officer but moonlights as an assassin. If you have 25,000 dollars handy that is. When you first meet Joe, you instantly get that this guy is a bad-ass.
At first, Joe is perceived as your stereotypical hit man. Well, I don’t know any but as far as movies go he fit the part. Money upfront, info on the person you want dead, clean and efficient. As the film progresses you see layers of crazy peeling away from his personality. When I mean crazy, like holy shit now I know why this received an NC-17 rating crazy. McConaughey delivers and exceeds expectations as Killer Joe. You actually want to applaud McConauhey and not punch him in the testicles after watching his electric performance.
Juno Temple plays Dottie Smith, the angelic wonder who seems naïve, but actually realizes her surroundings and puts a positive spin on almost everything. Well, unless you piss her off and then watch the fuck out.
Emile Hirsh plays Chris Smith, the dip-shit drug-dealing brother who suggests hiring Killer Joe to kill his mother. Why kill the mother you ask? Well, Chris is deep in debt and his mother has a 50,000 dollar life insurance policy. Sounds like a great idea, right? Chris is the cause of all the families’ problems and Hirsh delivers the role well, as expected.
Gina Gershon, who greets the audience with her thicket of pubes about two minutes in, plays Sharla Smith. Sharla is the step-mother to Chris and Dottie and is perhaps the shittiest of them all. Are you getting the white-trash vibe yet?
Last, but certainly not least, we have the delightful boob, Ansel Smith (Thomas Hayden Church) whose intellect is equal to that of a chicken nugget. A film this raunchy needs brief moments of comic –relief and Ansel’s aloofness provides that.
The interactions between the characters captivated me the most. Everybody wants a piece of Dottie; she is the beacon of hope that emerges from the steamy shit-pile that is trailer park Texas.
Joe and Dottie’s relationship is the most pragmatic one. The two first meet at the family trailer to discuss the details of the killing of Chris and Dottie’s mother. Chris and Ansel get stuck at work, which leaves Joe and Dottie time to get acquainted. As the two chat over a cup of coffee you see Joe is intrigued by Dottie’s sunny demeanor. Mid conversation Dottie studies his face and says “Your eyes hurt” Joe, barely flinches and stares right back at her. At first, I thought she was afraid of Joe and that she meant his eyes scared her, but as the film progresses you get the feeling that he had a traumatic childhood and Dottie could sense his hurt. Regardless, the two have a moment and the connection is made.
When Chris and Ansel tell Joe that they don’t have the money up front, Joe suggests a retainer…Dottie. After little deliberation the family agrees, unbeknownst to Dottie, that her virginity belongs to Joe. When Joe comes over for “dinner” and the whole family disappears, Dottie gets it. As she sobs in her room, adorned with pictures of Zac Efron and stuffed animals, she knows that her innocence is about to be killed. Here comes the sex scene! Spoiler Alert!
This is when the crazy starts to ooze out of Joe. His back is turned away from her as he commands her to slowly disrobe as he himself takes off all of his police gear simultaneously. He asks her to come up behind him and place her hand on his cock. She does, and he asks what does that remind you of? She says, “I’m twelve years old” Joe replies, “So am I.” This blew my mind. I’m not sure if the fantasy is innocence or is there an incestual undertone. For the record Dottie is like, seventeen or eighteen. Was Joe abused as a child? Was Dottie? Questions similar to this come up throughout the film. That’s when you know a film is more than entertainment, but a work of art that is open to interpretation. That being said, we know have successfully peeled a layer of crazy from Joe.
As the film continues things do not go according to plan. Not really a big surprise when murder and greed are involved. At this point, Chris is physically and mentally destroyed. He is in desperate need of his sister’s virginal innocence, which he now realizes he sold to Joe. In an act of desperation he tries to steal Dottie away to Mexico. Let’s not forget Joe still has Dottie on retainer and he is less than inclined to give her up. Dottie too has latched on to Joe at this point, but still loves her brother. The Dottie show down takes place in the last fifteen minutes of the film. What a mind fuck it is.
So I won’t divulge too much information because I would never deprive the viewer of the crazy that took place at the end of the movie. Throughout the film we see how truly despicable Joe and the cast can be. The final kitchen scene is where the demonic beast within all of them is exposed. Gentle Dottie is held up in her room listening to the crazy unfold. She murmurs to herself, “We need to get out of here, they’re killing us.” She then emerges from her room and walks to the kitchen and looks upon the vulgarity. At the end, Dottie makes her decision, but it’s not at all what you would expect. Dottie is no longer innocent. The last scene will keep you guessing and will stay with you for awhile.
Killer Joe is a film that I will never forget. Friedkin makes sure of that with his films. I’m pretty sure we were all shell-shocked at the end of The Exorcist and Killer Joe delivers the same vibe. The graceful foreshadowing Friedkin slips in is absolutely brilliant, too. So, I realize this film may not be for everyone because of the gratuitous content, but this is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. Trust me, if I can handle it, so can you. I would go to the Landmark Theater and watch it while it has the NC-17 rating. I have a feeling they are going to cut out a lot of good stuff in order to make it an R rating for a bigger release. I highly recommend it and I am most certain you will never look at a piece of fried chicken the same way again.
Filed under: Uncategorized